Giving participants their just desserts - by closing with impact!


In reality, a great dessert can help to complete a successful meal. A bad dessert leaves a sour taste in your mouth that can ruin the whole dining experience. In the context of training, the dessert relates to how we close. We want them to have something to savour from the experience that, like a multi-course meal, brings everything together. For many years, I have preached about the virtues of a powerful close through my trainer training programs. Good training closes, bad training ends. You owe it to your participants to finish the session with impact. And like a great dessert, you want to give them something that has them yearning for more.

Next time, deliver your training and finish by putting the “CREAM” on top!

C – Celebrate: Participants have invested time, money and energy in attending training.  As such, it is important to honour and recognise their contribution and investment in the learning. Celebration can take many forms. It could involve formal recognition through the presentation of certificates and other learning awards at the conclusion of training or the broadcasting of student success via newsletters and other communication formats. It could also be conducted in a less-formal way through a round of applause, high-five or the use of a team chant.

R – Revisit: It is important for the participants to go over the content in an interesting way, one last time prior to the conclusion of the training. This will help them to promote reinforcement.

E – Elicit Responses:  The trainer needs to create moments to check for understanding and have participants involved with their own learning. Common concluding activities that elicit responses include quizzes, game show-style questioning and final presentations made by individuals or groups.

A – Action Plan: Give the participants some time to reflect upon the important concepts or ideas learned in the session. Essentially, you are giving them the opportunity to provide advice to themselves for future implementation. Therefore, action planning helps the participants to transfer what they have learned in the training to their own situations. By spending some time reflecting and writing, there is a much greater chance that they will both retain and apply the content.

M – Movement: This may be the simple movement out of a classroom or it could be movement to a collage of ideas or a transition to a different space for new learning. Having bodies in motion will help the participants to stay focused and engaged. However, it is a good idea to consider what you want them to do when they are moving. Do you want them to write a response on a post-it note and add it to a poster? Do you want them to do a physical exercise? Do you want them to review a series of posters and summarize the content? Do you want them to connect with other learners as they move around? The key is to have them move with purpose, rather than move for the sake of moving. Be sure to provide clear instructions of want you need them to do.

The closing of a training session is just as important as the opening, as it helps to tie things together. A session shouldn’t end simply because the time is up. Moreover, it should be a considered and controlled process which maximizes the impact from all the learning. It is the trainer’s final opportunity to remind the participants of the key messages of the training event and should provide time for both reflection and forward thinking.


Marc Ratcliffe