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Last Minute Training Activities

Last week, I was asked to help facilitate a training for a group of volunteers. The training was scheduled after hours to accommodate work schedules, and our presentation was scheduled to start at 8:00 PM. The primary facilitator sent me her four talking points and asked me if I had last minute training activity ideas. Little did she know, I train like a champion! I have hundreds of blog posts at my disposal that are full of icebreakers, training activities, and debriefs that can cover just about any talking point. And guess what, you do too!

Within twenty minutes of sending me four talking points, I sent the facilitator a training plan with activities that matched her objectives that are proven to be interactive. As this was all done over email the day of the training, we would have no time to prep. The activities needed to be easy to facilitate without much need for setup or creative intervention.  Below is the plan I put together.

Talking PointActivity
Why do you continue to volunteer for this organization?


Speed Dating – In pairs, participants have 60 seconds each to answer this question. They will switch three times, giving them time with each person at their four-person table.
What unexpected bonuses have you found during your time here?Write and Run – In a relay race style, participant have five minutes to run up to a flipchart and write one unexpected bonus they have found during their time here. Continue the write and run until time expires.
Why should someone join this organization?Six-Word Elevator Speech – Using the sticky notes on your tables, write an elevator speech about why you are passionate about this organization. Once complete, hang it on the wall for others to review. You may write more than one. The facilitator kicks off this activity with an example.
How can we use what we discussed to increase membership?Group Debrief – How can we use the stories we heard tonight to increase membership in our organization?

Every one of these training activities was pulled from Train Like a Champion. Because of this, I trusted them to give me two critical benefits I needed for this training:

  1. They are engaging.
  2. They have been tested by at least one of us at Endurance Learning, and I know they work.

The Benefits of Tried and True Training Activities

As the last facilitators in a three-hour night-time training, we were already against a few obstacles. These obstacles were made much worse when the first presenter decided to use only one type of interaction for his presentation – lecture. Forty-five minutes into what should have been an hour-long presentation he honestly said: “Look how much time has passed and I haven’t even opened my PowerPoint”. As he stumbled through slides and the clock ticked long past when he should have finished, people wiggled in their chairs and started playing with their phones.

By the time our training started, people were bored, disengaged, and genuinely upset they wasted their spare time at a useless training.  Who can blame them?

before training activitiesAround 8:15, when we finally started our section, we asked participants to get out of their seats and arrange themselves in groups of four for speed dating. People groaned and rolled their eyes. We explained the activity, started the clock, and they began.

For the next forty-five minutes, not one person looked at their phone or their watch. People talked, laughed, competed, and engaged. By the end of the training, we had an amazing conversation about member recruitment the likes of which I have never seen at one of these training sessions.

Training Like a Champion Isn’t Difficult with Great Training Activities

Perhaps the hardest thing to explain about the training we build is that often times it is easier to build and facilitate than a standard lecture. The first presenter likely spent days putting together his lecture, PowerPoint slides, printing his slides (yes, he printed his slides), and practicing. The kicker is that he had excellent information to share, but almost nobody engaged with it. My co-facilitator and I spent less than an hour combined prepping our session, and I am still getting positive feedback about it.

Train Like a Champion is full of great training activities to make your training better. Take some time to look around at our training activities like word clouds, building a board game or adding a story to your training. Please, take our ideas, our only goal is to see you Train Like a Champion too.

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