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July 09, 2007
How to Add Motivation and Inspiration to Your Training

Start off with a bang. Get trainees involved right away. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the session to grab their attention and create a little excitement. For example, you could:

  • Quickly divide the group into two teams and have a competition to see which team can answer the most questions about the topic in a few minutes.
  • Tell a real story related to the topic about an employee who was injured because he or she failed to recognize hazards or failed to take precautions. Or go with a positive spin and tell a story about an employee who avoided an accident because he or she took the precautions you're going to talk about in the session.
  • Tell them what's in it for them if they pay attention during the session. Will they learn a new safety-related skill? A better way to protect themselves from a nasty hazardous substance that can burn their skin? A simple technique for avoiding painful back injuries?
  • Encourage participation by having employees take center stage and describe something they already know about the topic, or give them the opportunity to ask a question about the topic they'd like answered during the training session.

Keep their attention focused. You talking and trainees just listening is probably the least effective way to train. Experts tell us that in most cases hearing only accounts for 10 percent of learning, whereas more than 80 percent comes via the sense of sight. There's also this revealing breakdown on what trainees remember from a training session:

  • 10 percent of what they read
  • 20 percent of what they hear
  • 30 percent of what they see
  • 50 percent of what they see and hear
  • 70 percent of what they say - preferably in their own words
  • 90 percent of what they say as they do

This means safety training activities should be heavily weighted in favor of hands-on practical experience, interactive discussion with the trainees doing most of the talking, question and answer, and activities that have a visual impact (e.g., images to "find the hazards,"

Why It Matters...
  • Safety training is one of your best opportunities to protect employees and prevent job-related injuries and illness.
  • If trainees are bored, restless, inattentive, and uninterested in training sessions, they're not going to leave with the information they need to be safe on the job.
  • The effort you spend on creating and delivering motivational safety training that inspires trainees to be alert to hazards and work more safely will be repaid many times over with improved safety performance and fewer workplace accidents.

video presentations, and PowerPoint® presentations). And just to keep things fun and lively--and provide a little relief from all the serious stuff--throw in a little humor every once in a while. Tell a joke or do something comical to get a laugh. Then rapidly move on to the next training point while you've got their attention.

Make it real. Reality TV is really popular, so why not try some "reality" training? Have a speaker come in to give a short presentation about the topic. For example, you could have an employee who was injured on the job talk about his or her experience and what he or she learned from the accident as it relates to your topic. Or you could invite a community firefighter to come in to talk briefly about fire safety. Another way to make it real is with a demonstration. For example, for training on a new piece of equipment, you can demonstrate operation step by step, pointing out safety features as you go along. Then, give trainees the opportunity to step up and operate the equipment themselves while you observe and advise.

Send them away all fired up. Although safety training sessions may seem like the end of a long road for you--a process of preparation, presentation, and evaluation--remember that for trainees, it's only the beginning. The rest happens on the job. If they don't apply what they learned in the session to their work, you've wasted a lot of time, effort, and money. So send them back to the job fired up about safety and eager to use what they've just learned. Have a good wrap-up session prepared for the end of training. Make sure trainees leave with a sense of accomplishment to reinforce that they've learned something really important. Also be sure they don't go away empty-handed. Give trainees a handout or booklet to serve as safety reminders and job aids. And be sure to tell them that your door's always open any time they have questions, problems, or suggestions related to the training session.

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