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Creating Engaging Trainings

By Christine Holland, M.S., BCBA, LBA

Training events are one of the main ways we can provide professional development to service provider and caregivers. But how can you make sure people get the most out of your training? Here are 5 tips for creating engaging trainings that people will remember!

Know Your Learners

It is helpful to know the general characteristics of adult learners when you are designing a training. Adult learners want information that is relevant to their job responsibilities and can be immediately applied. They also come to trainings with a foundation of life experiences and knowledge. A good trainer can use this knowledge and experience to encourage active participation.

Create Clear Instructional Objectives

Clear and measurable learning objectives are the foundation of a good training. They also communicate to participants what they can expect to learn during the training. Training objectives should answer the following questions:

  1. What will participants be doing?
  2. Under what circumstances will they be able to do it?
  3. How well will they be able to do it

Incorporate Activities and Effective Visuals

The fastest way to lose your audience is to read from Powerpoint slides. If you are using a slide presentation be sure your slides are interesting and contain relevant visuals. Use variety in your media and alternate using text, photos and videos. Adult attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter and to continue to engage an audience, you want to incorporate relevant activities that encourage participation. Role plays, discussion groups, and make and takes that are directly related to your training content can keep your participants engaged and make it more likely the information will be utilized when the training is over.

Open and Close Strong

You want to try to immediately capture your audience’s attention and let them know the WIFT (What’s In IT For Them). A strong opening can also reassure your audience that you are organized, you know what you are talking about, and you are not going to waste their time. It can be helpful to start with a famous quote or a humorous or inspirational story that relates to your content. People are also going to remember the last thing you say so you want to make sure you have a strong closing. You want to summarize the highlights of your training and highlight what you most want participants to take with them. Part of your closing could be a call to action or challenge to your audience to set a goals to incorporate something from the training into their practice within the next week.

Evaluate Your Training

Evaluating your training is essential making improvements for future participants and can demonstrate that your training has value to the participants. The Kirkpatrick Model is the most well know standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training. Level 1 of Kirkpatrick’s model involves measuring your participant’s reaction to the training, which is the degree the participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their job. This is the minimum that should be done for all trainings.

Does your organization need effective and engaging trainings? We can help! Contact our Education, Training, & Support specialists for more information.

Print a downloadable PDF of this blog post: Creating Trainings.


Kirkpatrick, J.D. & Kayser. W (2016). Kirkpatrick’s Four Level of Training Evaluation. Alexandria, VA. ATD Press.

Knowles, Malcom. (1988). The Modern Practice of Adult Education. New York, NY. Cambridge, The Adult Education Company.

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2015). The Adult Learner: The definitive classic in adult education and resource development. Abington, Ohio. Routledge.

Mager, R.F. (1997) Preparing Instructional Objectives. Atlanta, GA. Center for Effective Performance.

Phillips, D.J.P. (2011) How to Avoid Death by Powerpoint. Presentation Skills Ltd.

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