Training Tips: Avoiding the “Plop”

It’s early on in the training session and it’s time to get some thoughts from the audience.  You pose a question and you wait for the answers to come streaming out.  But nobody raises their hand.  There’s silence.  Like an auctioneer, you scan the audience for any possible movement.  And you continue to find nothing but lonely, uncomfortable silence.  Your question simply plopped.

Should you call on someone?  Should you just give the answer?

I don’t like either of those options.  I like to ask people to turn to the person next to them and discuss their thoughts on the question.  Once they do this and the ice is broken and there is some energy in the room and people have obviously come up with some thoughts and answers to my question, then I’ll bring it back to the large group and ask for someone to respond.

The “plop” is never fun, but it happens.  In a large room, it’s easy to not volunteer an answer, it’s easy to hide among the rest of the participants.  When participants are asked to pair off, it’s much more difficult to remain silent.  And once the silence is broken, it’s much easier to find answers when you come back to the large group.

The Train Like A Champion blog is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  These brief “Training Tip” posts are a series of quick reference tips that are published while your beloved Train Like A Champion blogger is currently enjoying a little vacation.  The more in-depth posts will resume again in August.

4 thoughts on “Training Tips: Avoiding the “Plop”

  1. I like to call this having an audience of donuts. They all have that “Glazed” look! this happens in the afternoon a lot or if they have been sitting and listening too long!

    • That’s funny – I call my kids “glazed donuts” in the afternoon just before it’s nap time… and now that you mention it, it IS the same look participants get in the mid-afternoon when they’ve been sitting too long! When I’m driving my kids in the car and I don’t want them to fall asleep because we’re almost home, I ask them to do something – tell me a story, play a game, etc. Guess that same principle applies for adults – when we don’t want our learners to fall asleep, we should probably ask them to DO something!

    • EXACTLY! The other thing that I have a hard time listening to is: “Anyone? Nobody has anything to add? Boy, it looks like you all are tired at this point. We’ll just press ahead then…”

      Even if the audience is tired, give them some structure to help them stay engaged!

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