16 Ways to Defeat Boredom and Lead Training People Love

Poorly run training is worse than a poke in the eye. 


I’m an Advisory Mentor for the Queen’s Young Leaders. I typically Skype, but yesterday a mentee from Nigeria sent three questions via email. His first question concerns engaging people effectively in leadership training classes.

16 ways to defeat boredom and lead training people love:

  1. Design training with participants, when possible.
  2. Avoid having participants sitting in classroom style.
  3. Play music when people show up and during breaks. Energy goes up when people have to speak a little louder than normal.
  4. Provide opportunities for non-threatening participation. Ask them to describe a leader who had a positive impact on them, for example.
  5. Divide people into groups of five or six for group conversations.
  6. Walk around when you teach.
  7. Teach in a conversational tone.
  8. Discuss real life situations. Relevance is interesting – theory gets boring.
  9. Ask open ended questions. For example, “What are some ways to implement this leadership principle?”
  10. When asking questions, add an “s” to questions so people know there’s more than one way to solve problems.
  11. Discuss lessons you learned from mistakes. #connect
  12. Share a few success stories, but don’t come off like a know-it-all.
  13. Debrief and apply at the end of training units. Try questions like:
    • What’s shifting in your thinking?
    • What’s a useful take-away that you could put into practice today?
    • What’s coming to mind for you?
  14. Protect the group from participants who monopolize the conversation. Invite quiet participants to speak. “I’m wondering what Mary thinks about this?”
  15. Write up to five or six words on each PowerPoint slide, no more. Participants aren’t there to read slides. #boring
  16. Send discussion questions to the group a day or two before the meeting.

Bonus: Make a list of the things you hate about training classes. Don’t do them.

What suggestions do you have for effectively engaging people in leadership training classes?

The other questions my mentee asked:

What are some practical ways to teach leadership to young people below 35? (Like field activities.)

How can leaders draw out efficiency from individual team members in a group task?

Queens Young Leaders - Cambridge University