5 ways to get participants back on time!

One of the most common challenges for trainers is getting the group to refocus and return to their seats after an activity, particularly when this activity has been noisy or ends in bursts of laughter.  Similarly, a lot of time can be lost to the trainer when their group does not return in a timely fashion after a break.  A few months ago we went to our brains trust of training colleagues and former students with the simple question: How do you get your participants back on time? Below is a summary of the best tips we collected: 1. Tune them in! To get their attention and get them moving back to their seats, pick a brief, up-beat song. Explain to the participants that every time they hear this tune, they will have 30 seconds left before the session resumes. You will be surprised at how effective this will be. 2. Set a Timer Set a timer so the participants know exactly how much time they have, then give out playing cards for the people that make it back on time. At the end of the day, the person with a winning hand (either the best poker hand, highest sum, best card, etc.), wins a prize. People are suckers for free stuff...and the better the prize, the more likely they are to be on time! 3.  Make them responsible Get someone else in the group to be responsible for them coming back on time. It can be an open challenge where everyone knows, or you can give one of your slightly tardy participants a secret challenge (where they only win if no one knows that they have the role to get people back and everyone is back on time). 4. Share the Magic Inspire the group by scheduling a magic trick immediately after a break. People can be intrigued by magic and a good, yet simple trick will give them an incentive to come back on time. You could build it up if you like, promising a truly mind-bending activity after the break. (However, you will need to deliver upon the hype and have a well-rehearsed and visually stimulating trick!) A variation on the magic trick is to do the trick before the break and tell them you'll give them the instructions (or the secrets) after the break. Again there is some incentive to return on time. 5. Reward them When all else fails bribe them with chocolates, coffee, bags, books or other prizes for returning on time. This may include material that you were already planning to give away. However, by using it as an incentive, you have a chance to modify the group’s behaviour.  Over time, the participants will get into the routine of coming back when they should and you can wean them off the material prizes. Marc Ratcliffe
CEO, MRWED Group Follow Me on twitter: @MRWED_CEO