Train IMPACTfully!

When was the last time you walked out from a training session feeling enthused, motivated, enlightened and simply delighted by the trainer's delivery and methodology? Well, if you can't recall, you are not alone. Most trainers typically fall into the trap of simply downloading the required information without much regard to the extent to which participants are absorbing this information. What's more, participants leave the session with newly acquired knowledge that miraculously disappears as soon as they walk through the main door.

The role of a trainer goes beyond content sharing. Today, trainers are expected to be facilitators, agents of learning, performance consultants and entertainers, in order to make the training session IMPACTful and to maximise retention rate. A useful acronym for trainers who wish to make their next training session memorable, is IMPACT.


An impactful programme starts with the trainer's mindset towards a programme. If the trainer walks into the training session thinking that it will be just another programme, guess what, it WILL be just another programme. Before the training session, ask yourself what you hope to achieve from the training session, then ask yourself how you are going to make it memorable for participants. For all the programmes that I conduct, before the programme commences, I take time to mentally visualise the smiling faces of participants as they walk out from the training session saying, "WOW! That was a great programme!" Then, I make it a reality.


Recall the last training session that you have attended. How frequent did the trainer use different learning methodologies such as buzz groups or role-play to make the training session interesting and learning meaningful? Once, twice, thrice? Research has proven over and over again, a combination of different learning methodologies aids retention up to 95%. I remember attending a two-day training session where the trainer used only one methodology - lecturing. Not surprisingly, at the end of the second day, participants couldn't recall what was shared on the first day, not to mention the trainer's name!

Personal style

As much as we'd like to think that our training style is well-received by participants, we need to be conscious of our style because it may not be well-received by everyone in the audience. Although there are several instruments available in the marketplace to identify one's instructional style, very often, trainers need to adapt their style based on the audience's composition, background, culture, and the trainers' personal comfort zone. The best way of finding out if the audience is responding well is by checking your blindspot. Ask your colleagues for their feedback or videotape yourself during a training session. Watch the non-verbals of your participants as you share key information during the training session. Then, modify your style for best results. It is easier for one trainer to adapt to 20 participants than vice-versa.


Individuals absorb information through a variety of ways. The kinesthetics love to "feel", while the visuals prefer to "see" and the auditory are inclined towards information that they can "listen" to. While most of us use a combination of the different senses to absorb this information, trainers typically impact participants on only one sense - sight. Making things worse is that most trainers speak at the rate of 100-160 words-per-minute while participants can absorb information at 400 words-per-minute. So what happens in-between? Day dreaming, of course! In order to narrow this gap, trainers need to make a conscious effort to appeal to the other senses by getting the audience involved by providing greater visual stimulation.


The intent of most training sessions tend to be behaviour modification, hence, it would seem natural for the trainer to provide guidance and coaching to individuals who have difficulty in applying the newly acquired information. However, for most of the training sessions that I have attended, trainers typically are too pre-occupied doing "other stuff" such as making phone calls or working on their laptops during the training sessions while their poor participants are grappling with the instructions provided. Training with an IMPACT requires more than the trainer's physical presence during training programmes, it requires coaching and guiding participants throughout the entire session.

Think differently

If you would like participants to rave about the training programmes you conduct, be it hard-skills or soft-skills, it is key that you make it memorable for them. Incorporate the "fun" element into training by using music, experiential methodologies, story-telling and metaphors in every single programme that you conduct. Adults are just like babies with big bodies - the greater their attention, the higher their retention. Make it Fun!

The next time you are required to deliver a training session, don't make it just another training session, make it an IMPACTful one!

Zack Bana, 2010
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