Have you ever experienced one of those boring courses where the trainer merely ‘lectures’ people on what they should do?

The information presented is a one-way download, with little participant involvement or interaction – other than the occasional use of a flipchart to record ideas. Unsurprisingly, as a result, little (if any) learning ever takes place – and it becomes more a case of staying awake!

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like this… by using the principles of Accelerated Learning, trainers can make a real step change in the effectiveness of what they do.

Here are 5 techniques to actively involve and engage participants in a training course:

1. Collaborative review

Review circle gets learners teaching each other…

Have learners stand in a circle. Give each learner a double-sided card with one side green and the other red. Ask a review question. Have those who know the answer to display the green side of their card and those who do not, the red side.

Then ask those displaying red to find someone displaying green for the correct answer. Afterwards, ask a volunteer to share the correct answer with the group. 

Then ask people to return to the circle and repeat the process with another question. Continue as long as appropriate.

2. Learner involvement

Learners create questions at the beginning that classmates answer at the end…

At the beginning of a session, give everyone an index card and ask them to write a question they would like to have answered in this course. Then pass around a hat and, as people introduce themselves, have them put their card in the hat. (They can read their question aloud if they choose).

Then later in the course, perhaps near the end, pass the hat around again. Ask each learner to take a card. After everyone has picked a card, tell them that they each have to answer their question for the group. Give them a few minutes to consider the answer if necessary.

Being able to answer questions that couldn't be answered at the start helps learners (and trainers) identify how much has been learned in the course – and any areas which areas need revisiting.

3. Learner feedback

Coloured cups let learners tell you if they're ‘getting it’…

One of the challenges as a trainer is how to pace a course. You're always wondering how well people are understanding new learning material. Here's a great way for learners to provide you with continual feedback as the course progresses.

Provide each learner with a set of three plastic or paper cups that stack over each other – one green, one red, and one yellow.

Ask them to place the stack upside down in front of them, keeping that colour on top of the stack that represents their receptivity at any moment. (Green means they are involved and learning, yellow indicates that they are starting to get a little confused, and red means that their learning has stopped for one reason or another and they need help.)

The cups can also be used to survey learners' agreement or disagreement with an answer to a question or a solution, concept to a problem posed in the course. (Green meaning 'I agree', red meaning 'I disagree', and yellow meaning either 'I'm neutral' or 'I can't decide.')

4. Interactive presentation

Instant Roulette Review keeps learners involved in a presentation…

Help to keep learners alert during a presentation by having them participate in instant reviews.

Give each learner an index card with a number on it, giving the same number to two people (or three, if you have a large group).

Tell the learners that periodically throughout your presentation you are going to pull numbers out of a hat corresponding to the numbers distributed to the group. The learners whose number gets pulled have to work with their partner(s) to summarise for the group what was presented in the last interval and share any particular meaning and application value it has for them.

Begin your presentation. At intervals of from five to ten minutes or so, pull a number at random out of the hat and ask that the learners holding that number take five minutes to summarise what was covered in the last interval.

Then put the number back into the hat and continue, periodically repeating the above until the presentation is completed.

5. Learning and review game

A 'Win Lose or Draw' Game show can inspire intense, fun competition and provide a quality review…

TV Gameshows are often ideal formats for fun review sessions. Here's how this game works:

Create a deck of cards. The front side of each card has a category or a topic covered in the training. The back side of the card contains two questions related to this topic. The group is divided into two teams.

The game starts with one person from the first team picking a card. He or she then has to depict this topic in pictures on a flipchart. His or her team members have 30 seconds to guess the topic. If they guess correctly, they get a chance to answer the two questions on the back of the card. They earn one point for each correct answer, so a total of three points are possible each turn.

If the team cannot guess the category within 30 seconds, the other team gets a chance to answer the two questions on the back of the card.

The competition is likely to be intense! But the most important thing is that it gets learners actively thinking about the content of the entire course.