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There’s a big difference between opening a training session and simply beginning. A strong opener—done when class begins or after returning from break—is a purposeful activity that’s directly related to the content being taught. It’s not a 10-minute monologue, it’s not a list of how the day will pan out, it’s not even the course objectives. The goal? To extend a warm welcome, grab your participants’ attention, break preoccupation, allow for networking, and move them into a place of learning. You want to connect with your audience, you want them to feel comfortable with one another, and you ultimately want them to remember what you’re about to teach. Openers help create an environment that’s conducive to learning.
According to Becky Pike Pluth, president and CEO of The Bob Pike Group, “The idea is to create more starts and stops so as to increase the retention of the content.”
Here are five you can try during your next training session:
How long should openers be? According to Becky in her book Creative Training: A Train-The-Trainer Field Guide, the length of the opener should vary based on the length of the class. If the class is one hour, the opener should be between one and three minutes. If it’s a half-day class, the opener should be anywhere from 5-10 minutes. If it’s an all-day class, it should be 10-15 minutes. If the training goes multiple days, the opener can be as long as 15 minutes.
As the trainer, you create the culture you want in your classroom. Foster a session of relationship-building and experience-sharing, where people feel comfortable, are engaged, and have fun (even when it comes to mandatory training!). This type of classroom setting ultimately leads to better retention and learning.
For more unique openers that will leave a lasting impact, sign up for The Bob Pike Group’s Presentation Skills Workshop.