Experienced teachers and trainers know that preparation is key to success in both traditional and corporate classrooms. When it comes to teaching adult learners, though, you’ll need more than just a good training plan to succeed. You’ll also need to recognize the unique needs of adult learners, and you’ll have to work diligently to engage your audience every step of the way. Here are seven straightforward, effective ways you can engage adults learners and boost training retention.
Assess Your Audience Ahead of Time
Adult students tend to have a much broader range of experience than younger learners. Keeping them engaged means understanding where they’re at and what they would really benefit from learning. Before you hold a training session, sit down and think about the background of each attendee. Remember that teaching your audience effectively means knowing what they already know and how you can build on that knowledge.
Stay Focused & Relevant
If you’ve ever taught kids before, you might have noticed that they welcome teachers who get off track. You can wander off topic, and they generally won’t complain. It’s very different with adults. No matter their job roles, the adults you’re training expect you to provide highly relevant information in an efficient manner. That means that you must stay focused on the task at hand and need to ensure that you’re making everything you present relevant to your audience.
Manage & Facilitate Conversation
Almost every class has that one student who likes to dominate the conversation. As a trainer or teacher, it’s essential that you manage big personalities and facilitate the conversation so that everyone can participate. That might mean keeping people in check if they dominate the classroom or interrupt and belittle other students. Always steer the conversation in a positive direction, and be sure to keep it on topic too.
Both experienced and younger students love hands-on learning opportunities. That means that it’s essential to encourage exploration during your training sessions. Form workgroups, hand out small assignments and give your students plenty of opportunities to explore training information on their own.
Offer High-Value Deliverables
Classroom instruction is great, but every student needs something to take away that helps reinforce what they’ve learned too. For adults, that means creating high-value deliverables that recap and extend upon what you’ve taught them. Listing or linking to additional support resources is a valuable way to keep adults engaged long after your training seminar is over. You can offer these deliverables in the form of printed handouts or via an online LMS, such as Prolaera.
Focus on Real-World Applications
The adult learners in your classroom aren’t there to learn for the sake of learning. They’re in your class to learn information that they can apply to their jobs. That means you need to stay focused on real-world applications for the information that you present to your students. Before your training session, identify specific scenarios in your firm or workplace that correspond to training materials. Creating avatars and engaging in role-playing activities with students are great ways to practice real-world applications.
Give Plenty of Positive Reinforcement
Most adults want and expect praise when they make on-the-job accomplishments. That need for positive reinforcement carries over to the training environment too. As you interact with adult learners, praise and reinforce them when they’re on target with learning aims. Doing so will help keep the environment in the classroom positive and will encourage greater engagement from all attendees.
Of course, there’s no shame in working with someone who has extensive training experience either. Workplace training professionals know how to engage adult learners and can help you create compelling sessions that even the most seasoned attendees will enjoy. Remember that working with adult learners is about more than meeting basic training goals. It’s about investing proactively in the future growth of your firm or organization.