Steve Willis is a Master Trainer and Vice President of Professional Services at VitalSmarts.
It’s 3:55 in the afternoon. And even though the participants accepted an appointment that clearly stated the session would run until 4:45, most are packing up and leaving—at least mentally. But the big problem is you’re ready to join them.
The end-of-day malaise. I think most everyone’s experienced it, but there is a wide range in how trainers respond. How you respond makes the difference in whether people pack up mentally or hang in there with you until the end of the day—the time they agreed to when they accepted the appointment in the first place.
So many trainers I see start to turn up the volume, become more animated, or otherwise “crank up the show.” Yet that’s been one of the least effective ways to approach the situation. Participants sit back and lay bets on how long until the presenter’s batteries run out.
Which brings me to this: What have you found that works to address the end-of-day malaise?
Join the conversation by sharing your thoughts below.
9 thoughts on “From the Road: At the End of the Day”
I try to remember the adult learning principles and give the participants some control over the training. Ask the participants what they want. That’s what has worked for me. We take a look at what we have left to cover and ask them what’s the most important topic for them. The training is for their benefit, after all, so they should have a say in what happens. If this is the last day of training, you may need to get creative and ask the group to think of ways they can learn anything that was missed on their own. If you have another day of training, you can also look for ways to move the content around.
Our audience is typically first line sales managers who are already not accustomed to sitting all day, and then add in different times zones, and the end of the day malaise; you have the perfect storm. Through out the session we try to get participants on their feet and working on using the skills via flip charts, group discussions or just standing up in pairs to solve on the job problems or teach the skills to others. For example having two people role play a situation with opposing goals in front of the group to move into Make It Safe II brings a different level of attention. Getting off the slides and using other interactive group thinking activities helps keep people engaged, excited and learning.
I make sure to include lots of interactive activities in the last two hours, where they literally have to move around (forming new groups or pairs with others outside of their tables, doing quick stand-up exercises, fast/fun energizers, etc.). Also sharing or asking for compelling stories that bring the material to life often perks people up.
And, I also believe that when they’re done, they’re done – so if you can move things around as Tony suggests or shorten up what you planned when it seems that they’ve truly had enough for the day, then that’s a good thing, too. Many of our courses run for 9 hours, which is a long day even for the most interested participant.
I admit I’ve been guilty more than once of “cranking up the show” when I notice the group’s (and my) energy flagging at the end of the day, so one of my most effective strategies is to focus on getting my participants to DO something together. Whether it’s breaking them into groups and having them prepare and teach back concepts, or having table groups brainstorm strategies to address a common Influence challenge, the more I can get the group working (rather than listening), the more energy I can usually generate.
I’ve found that getting them to interact as many of you suggest is a wonderful energizer. And it doesn’t have to be huge; it can be a turn and teach for a couple of minutes.
I’m wondering if you’ve found a magic hour when people just tune out?
Steve – I find it’s either one hour after lunch or one hour before the established end time!
I think the new CC v4 has addressed the problem of having to rush at end of both Days One & Two. The rushing can also impact negatively on energy levels! I like the idea of turning it over to the class with activity and the 3 Headed co-worker is a good one for ending Day One and the 2 humorous videos work well at the end of Day Two. Also I like to get people engaged in talking about their “real” conversations and selecting the relevant skills to use.
Hi, this often happens in CC1 so sometimes I stop showing the slides and get them to teach back the skills (this often coincides with Explore Others’ Paths). They become much more animated, I can take it easy and they take responsibility for the energy instead of me!!
Keeping participants charged through to the end of the day is helped by taking breaks and having good pacing all day. And having clear assignments that make sense. And I absolutely agree with all the comments about having the participants doing interactive work at the end of the day—especially if it is REAL work–Something that will be a key takeaway to drive successful performance back home.