Michael Rosenthal and Training Magazine: Three Ways to Engage Training Participants

Ensuring Participant Attention
Michael Rosenthal from Consensus, a negotiation and conflict resolution consulting firm, recently wrote an article in Training Magazine to answer the following question: How do I ensure that participants pay attention during the programs I line up for them?

Michael’s answer was perfect: People don’t pay attention when they feel they aren’t learning anything that will have a positive impact on their lives, when they question the source and validity of the presentation, and when they can’t apply it to their real-world situations.

Increase Engagement
And we agree with Michael’s more extensive answers that encapsulate the three things trainers can do to increase participant engagement:

  • Whenever possible, use subject matter experts – when participants know as much as the presenter, skepticism will rise. Facilitators must demonstrate in-depth subject matter experience, with a history of successfully applying the concepts.
  • Adopt curricula that use exercises to drive the learning – adults learn and remember through experience, so a mixture of theory and exercises that incorporate the work they do on a daily basis works best.
  • Customize curricula to meet the unique aspects, challenges, and goals of the particular audience – the more closely subject matter is related to participants’ jobs, the higher the levels of engagement, retention, and post-classroom application.


Deliver Courses Based on Participants’ Real Working Lives
At complete communications, we take these ideas very seriously. Our courses are based on participants’ real working lives. Our exercises use participants’ real work. And we measure our success by asking how and when participants are going to use their new knowledge at work.

Case Study: Writing with Impact
Our Writing with Impact workshop is based on these very principles. Facilitators are able to answer any question. Real-world exercises are brought to the workshop by participants themselves – usually a deliverable they are working on that week. And of course, each workshop is tailored to the participants themselves, whether they are at the CxO level, middle managers or Executive Assistants.

The result? Engaged and motivated participants who walk away with valuable techniques that they can start to apply immediately in their daily jobs.