I have recently delievered a training course and one of the delegates was a little too talkative. She dominated the sub-group discussions, continued talking when I was trying to address the group as a whole, and then tried to dominate the whole group discussions as well. I was also informed by one of the delegates that she had been using her mobile phone to send text messages throughout the day - although I did not see this.
I used a few different techniques to try and control this delegate, to varying success - I managed to ensure she was not dominated the whole group discussion too much, but the endless chatter when other people were talking continued. I have only recently started delivering training and I have never had to deal with someone as difficult as this before. I know this delegate will be on another of my courses in the near future, so I would like to be more prepared next time.
Can anyone recommend any techniques to use to control people such as this so that they don't take the learning experience away from the other delegates? Are there any websites that are good for delivery techniques that will help to control/resolve these kinds of situations?
I always start my training sessions with a set of ground rules for the group - the first ones are standard for every group (only one person speaks at a time, mobiles switched off or silent, no 'yes buts', no point scoring, return on time from breaks, etc, etc) then let the group suggest and agree any additional ones. Delegates and trainer can 'yellow card' anyone breaking the rules and whoever has the most yellow cards at the end of the session has to pay a forfeit (tidy the room at the end of the day, buy doughnuts, or whatever). If a particular person is persistently disruptive, I will have a quiet word with them during a break - they may not realise that their behaviour is so noticeable or annoying. However, you sometimes find that such people are particularly bright or informative and it can help to give them a particular role. Being an observer for a group exercise (i.e. they can't join in discussion but are expected to take notes and give feedback) is a useful one.
Hope that helps
Just as an add on to Judy's yellow card system (but slightly off topic, sorry!) - when we are delivering a series of courses to the same group we operate a fines system. When agreeing the rules we agree a charity that everyone is happy to contribute to. From then on anyone who is late, has a phone go off, is disturbed by their satff, etc, has to pay a fine into the chairty box. The amount collected is then totted up and donated to the charity at the end of the courses.
The concept is usually well received and is remarkably self policing!
semper ad meliora
Great idea Adhna - wish I'd thought of that. Will definitely use it.
All great ideas.
Simon at Challenging HR Ltd
So it worries and saddens me this thread. If you are providing a course then its for peoples benefit not yours.
Why would they then disrupt it? Why do people not moderate themselves.Is it not simple bad manners or am I naive? It feels like kinder garden?
When I present courses it is usually to those who have to feedback and are generally interested.I always make a point to encourage people to become involved and challenge the presentation.
I am sorry that presenters are so hassled in training and not listened to.
In reality we have to accept that on every course there will usually be a mixture of conscripts and volunteers. Of these two groups you can find that the former bring their unwillingness to be there into the room with them and the latter sometimes pursue their own agenda to the detriment of others.
It is all part of life's rich tapestry!
Handling difficult delegate comes down to one thing; people are different and respond differently when they are nervous or when in a group. Understanding this can do wonders to help you become better at training.
For example, extroverts have the tendency to talk a lot when they are nervous. They are more likely to dominate discussions because they have a fear of silence.
On the other hand, introverts tend to be quiet when they are not sure about a situation or are somewhat shy.
Combine these two groups and you end up with one type dominating the other type. Add to this that some trainers may not be naturally extrovert and you can see why it becomes difficult to manage loud and outspoken delegates.
The trick is to follow a system. You as the trainer will always have the final say in a training course and to silence others, all you have to do is to talk. To silence a delegate who doesn't stop talking or dominating others, just start talking and don't stop until everyone goes quiet. It will happen. When everyone is quiet, explicitly ask another person by name to contribute to the discussion. If the talkative person started talking again, thank him for his inputs and explain that you want to give a chance to others. Most people get the message at this point and will know that they have to abide by your rules.
The fact is that the training course is there for the benefit of all participants and it's unhelpful to allow one delegate to dominate for what ever reason. It's much easier to establish some clear rules at the outset. I politely request that as a courtesy to their colleagues people will not talk when someone else is speaking. If there is chattering when I am speaking, I just stop talking. Trust me, it works. A talkative delegate can be a real asset but they need to be managed. You can ask them to participate in role plays or to gather opinions from their group and do the feed back - where others might be more nervous.
© 2010 Reed Business Information Ltd.