5 common reasons participants don't engage in learning activities

Mrs. Doubtfire wouldn’t be the best trainer.

That is, if her training is anything like her cooking.

Sadly, that movie scene is what many trainings feel like. Especially when trainers are involving learners in interactive activities, such as games, discussions, etc.

Many learning activities are disorganized, chaotic, rushed, frantic, confusing, awkward, sweaty, and downright scary!

Now, does that mean you should just stop leading interactive activities and go back to a straight lecture format?

Not if you want your learners to engage with your content, retain it, and apply it moving forward. Interaction is crucial!

So how can you make sure your learning activities go smoothly? How can you create clarity and confidence for your learners, so that they’re as engaged as possible in those activities?

Believe it or not, there’s a “secret recipe” for setting up fool-proof learning activities. We’ll reveal that recipe in another blog in this series.

But before you begin following that recipe, it’s important to understand five common reasons participants don't engage in learning activities.

Here they are…

1. The trainer didn’t explain the “why” and “how” clearly.

It’s not just about explaining what you want your learners to do, and how you want them to do it. You need to clarify “why” you want them to do it.

If you don’t clarify what your learners will gain by participating in the activity, they won't be motivated to participate.

So what will your learners gain?

An enlightening new perspective? A new results-driven application step? An improved state of being?

2. Learners weren't listening to the instructions.

Learners are easily distracted. Especially in a webinar!

Are you being intentional about focusing their attention before and during your activity instructions?

You can do this by giving your learners a signal to let them know you’re about to give detailed instructions for an activity they’re about to do.

It’s also important to give them a chance to ask you to clarify what they’re supposed to do before starting the activity.

3. Groups lacked leadership during the activity.

If each activity group doesn’t have someone kicking off the group’s conversation and keeping them on task during the activity, they won't get the full benefit out of the activity.

Nor will they be able to learn from each other or learn from other groups afterward.

That’s why it’s critical to nominate a team leader for groups before starting an activity.

4. Learners didn't feel a sense of urgency.

Learners might know the "why" and "how" of the activity.

But if they don't know why it matters that they complete this activity NOW and QUICKLY, they might dilly-dally and not finish... and therefore not experience the full benefit of the activity.

So how much time are you giving learners for the activity? Set a timer and make sure they can see it ticking down.

Playing upbeat music during the activity will also help create a sense of urgency.

5. Learners felt awkward about participating.

If you don't go out of your way to help create clarity and confidence for your learners before each activity, they'll feel awkward and won't engage.

Being mindful of the first four reasons above will alleviate a lot of the awkwardness that learners might normally experience.

So which of those five reasons above is the biggest challenge for you? What’s one step you’ll take to overcome that challenge in your next training?

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