Creative Training Techniques

Engaging a class full of adults might seem like a daunting task but making the classroom an active place helps students use skills in the job. Active learning techniques are more effective than the long-standing tradition of simply listening to lectures, perhaps taking notes, and occasionally asking a question or two. Once training classes turn away from the traditional (boring) approach, and students are involved in the learning process actively, smile sheet ratings go way up, and positive word of mouth spreads, and there might even be a “standing room only” sort of situation.  All this is a positive sign that the learned skills can transfer to their job, bringing positive results to the business.

The following are simply a list of ideas to convert boring lectures to blood pumping, engaged participation. Jot down your favorites, and come back to this list when you are planning a new training program.

  • Ask open-ended questions to spark discussion. If someone asks you a question, see if the class can answer it for you. This helps you to act more as a facilitator than a lecturer, leaving the class to engage more actively.
  • Ask students to doodle a picture that relates to the class and hang them up at break time for a relevant laugh. Or go with pipe cleaners, marshmallow people or silly putty animals. Ask students to evaluate and award fabulous prizes for best efforts. Doodling while listening has been shown to enhance learning, and retention of knowledge by 29%.
  • Flip charts! Ask the students to come up with ideas, examples, diagrams, questions, concepts or explanations. Use themes, silly or otherwise to get creative juices flowing. Give them the nice smelling markers and assign groups to design a group tee-shirt complete with logo.
  • Do a team building exercise that involves prizes and fun such as protect and drop a raw egg, do relay races, trivia contest about the organization, or team ink blot analysis.
  • Invite teams to be creative and give them an exercise to think outside the box (try a contest to build a useful gadget from paperclips.)
  • Ask participants to put together a skit or short presentation. Don’t forget the smart phone so that you can put a video on YouTube (make sure you ask permission, you do not want to “out” someone in the witness protection program, for example.)
  • Ask participants to use smart phones to search for answers to obscure but vital questions in the form of a contest with “fabulous prizes.”
  • Create a life-sized board game (use tape or posters on the floor), with students having to answer questions to advance.
  • Create a discussion panel of “visiting experts” and have the class as the audience, asking questions.
  • Do a demonstration, freely using participants. For example, the author used colored plastic balls to represent protein molecules and had students act as chemical bonds by grabbing the right colored balls and letting them go at the correct time to demonstrate the steps of protein purification.


Be creative and relevant, so students can see and do rather than read with you from slides.  The secret is, you will be having a good time along with your students.

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