4 Questions to Ask That Will Get Your Learners to Re-Engage

Distractions are everywhere. Whether it’s a text message or a push alert, these distractions make it challenging for participants to stay focused and on task—even with the best trainer. That’s when a humble and simple question can become one of your most valuable training tools. 

When the online chat goes quiet or eyes begin darting toward the clock, the right question can encourage participants to opt back into a learning mindset and re-engage with the material you’re covering. There are several different question formats that can complement your training style and get learners to re-engage effectively.

1. Simple, Content-Based Questions

The first type of question that can help participants refocus and re-engage is a tried and true classic: the content query. This is the kind of question you might ask to review core concepts. Often, these questions are phrased like this: “Can anyone tell me what [vocabulary word] means?”

The idea isn’t to stump your participants—you want just the opposite. These should be “gimme” questions that simply help learners to realize their own attention is wandering and give them an easy pathway to re-engage.

2. Ask Provocative Questions

There are questions where answers are easy. And then there are the questions that aren’t even designed to have answers. Asking provocative questions can be a great way to get learners to re-engage when they come back from a break or as you’re switching topics. You could ask questions such as:

  • “How would the world be different if nobody followed [important rule]?”
  • “What do you suppose they were thinking when they invented [new technology]?”
  • “How has social media changed the way that businesses [perform activity]?”
  • “What can the human brain tell us about [customer behavior]?” 

You can develop your own variations. These questions can be prepared ahead of time, and they’re usually intended simply to start a lively conversation about the bigger ideas underpinning the training session.

3. Ask Authentic Questions

Sometimes as trainers we feel like we have to know it all. But that approach could mean you overlook one of the best possible questions to re-engage learners: the authentic, impromptu question.

These questions can be asked in response to a topic a participant brought up or as a natural and organic result of covered topics. Authentic questions can look like this:

  • “[One participant] asked about [topic]. That’s pretty new so I’m not sure about the answer. Does anyone else know what the answer might be?”
  • “That’s a good question, and I’m not sure what the answer is. How should we go about looking that up?”

Including participants not only in the question but also in the quest for an answer is an incredibly effective re-engagement tool.

Ask Crowdsourced Questions

As part of your training prep, you’ll probably develop countless questions to ask participants. But sometimes participants have questions of their own. Crowdsourced questions can make a session more exciting and relevant to participants. There are a couple of ways you can intentionally build this into your instructional design:

  • Create a question queue. Virtual trainers or webinar producers, for example, could instruct learners to put questions in the comments section. When you sense participants starting to disengage, you can move to those questions and start answering.
  • Let other participants answer learner-led questions. This can help trainers find new answers and keep participants more engaged.

A Tool For Engagement

Re-engagement questions aren't designed to test knowledge, though they can be useful in checking to see if core concepts are clear.

Instead, you’re using a question as an opportunity to refocus learner attention. In this way, questions are also a great method for keeping your session participant-led and focused. To find out how you can make sure your entire program is participant-centered, take our Train the Trainer Boot Camp or Instructional Design Workshop.

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