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Too Long, Too Boring and Other Reasons Your Trainings Suck

By Christine Burke, originally posted on the GovLoop blog

boring-online-trainingIf you’re a government trainer, you’ve probably heard a million and one excuses why people aren’t starting or completing your training courses. And while you can’t force everyone to do what you want (unless it’s required training), there could be several aspects of your course that are deterring the masses.

Luckily, you can make your trainings better. Here are some universal complaints we’ve heard from the GovLoop audience about what they don’t like about trainings. Take them in – then learn how to turn these complaints into making your trainings better.

Reason #1: “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m too busy.”

How long are you really asking someone to commit to the training? If you’re running in-person, half or full-day training sessions, there is a high likelihood that this will be your number one complaint from participants.

The reality is that in-person trainings are a large time commitment and often costly and stressful for participants to attend. In fact, the Association for Talent Development’s 2014 State of the Industry report found that the average employee uses 31.5 hours for training for the entire year with an average expenditure of $1,208.

You should start by assessing all of your online training courses to determine whether they can be converted to online training courses. If completely moving to online delivery isn’t possible, you can look into implementing a flipped classroom approach to cut down on classroom time. With this approach, participants watch quick videos as ‘homework’ before a shorter class discussion.

Reason #2: “I’m bored to tears.”

Disturbingly enough, the average attention span for an adult is only eight seconds. That’s less than a goldfish! (And good job if you’re still reading this…you’re above average!)

Just think about the length of videos you watch online. While your training course can’t be shortened to six seconds like a Vine, you should break content up into more consumable pieces.

Besides the way content is delivered, there are several other reasons for someone to say they are bored that you can mediate:

  • Presenter is not ideal: sometimes the smartest people on a subject aren’t the best to present it. Long-winded, or monotone presenters can quickly lose an audience. Hold several preparation sessions with the presenter before the training and make sure they are clear on the learning objectives and main takeaways of the course. You can also break up a session with multiple presenters, which keeps participants engaged as they hear different perspectives on a subject.
  • No interaction: almost nobody likes a lecture. Jolt your audience to life and break up content with interactive elements (pop quiz anyone?) or discussion questions.

Reason #3: “I didn’t know about it.”

How are you communicating with participants about the training? Even if you’ve created the most engaging and effective course, it doesn’t matter if nobody is aware it exists.

You may be thinking, “I sent five emails to you about it! Why did you ignore them?” And yes, this could be true. But you can also use an integrated communication mix to reach people on multiple channels like email, the intranet or SharePoint, internal newsletters, meetings and calendar invites to increase their exposure to the message.

So the next time you hear one of these excuses, take a step back to ask yourself if any of these points ring true with your trainings. You will come away with more insight into the problem and ideas to move forward and improve over time, rather than an annoyance headache.

GovDelivery also works with government organizations to create engaging learning experiences. Schedule a demo to get an inside look at our approach to training/course development.