Let’s face it, as an RTO the biggest thing that we want to create is Raving Fans, that not just love our courses but also love the skills and knowledge that they acquire. One complaint can spread a bad word like wildfire, yet a raving fan can create significant new business for an RTO and the more raving fan type students that an RTO is able to create in a compliant fashion the more successful a business will be.
So in this blog article we want to share with you the top 7 most powerful strategies that you can apply within the training and learning environment to be birthing those raving fans for you as a trainer and your organisation. Particularly check out number 4 as it is a game changer in learning.
If we want to be seen as a great RTO that gets limitless referrals there is one thing that we constantly need to be doing in terms of both marketing and training delivery. That is, ‘put ourselves in the mind of the student’. It seems like such a basic thing, yet when this principle is applied trainers get such powerful insights into what could be missing or could be tweaked to build the brand of the RTO. I once saw a railway company that had a motto for their Tram driver’s which said, “Think like a Passenger” and I thought this was so profound as it forces a real mindset shift. This ‘Think like a student’ can be applied to designing materials, activities in the classroom and even assessments. As fundamentally the student should be at the heart of all that we do. Having said that, it can be easy to fall into a routine when we train and deliver a course.
So let’s do that as we go through the following 7 Strategies for Training that can make all the difference in the experience for the learner.
Strategy Number 1- Acknowledgement & Validation
Here is the basic premise of psychology, everybody wants to be heard, seen and acknowledged on some level. It is no mean feet for a student embarking on a course to take time out of their life, re organise their work schedule, their hobby schedule, the social life and their commuting arrangements etc., the more we acknowledge these challenges to a student, the more they will feel validated and ‘seen’ not just as a student but as a person. This acknowledgement can make all the difference to a student’s motivation and commitment levels.
So in practice what does that look like in a training context, spend longer than usual in your introduction acknowledging your students for their logistical challenges that they faced coming to class online and even a face to face setting. This shouldn’t just be an off the cuff remark of “Thanks for coming today”, actually acknowledge the specific challenges, be specific and you will see people really appreciate your extra words of acknowledgement see deeper levels of connection grow within the group as you do this.
Strategy Number 2- Personalise, Personalise & Personalise, Where Possible
Ok so in RTO land as it can sometimes be known, the buzz word that is often thrown around is ‘Contextualisation’ and this is a critical word to embrace yet at the same time it doesn’t go deep enough.
In training we certainly want to customise materials for our learners, but more important we want to help them personalise their learnings because it is the personalisation that leads to long term application. There are four stages of learning anything, we won’t be going into them in this article, but constantly be thinking about where are more opportunities that you can ‘personalise’ the information for the learners. This can be done through powerful questions such has- “What is the biggest thing that you have taken away form this segment that we have just covered?” “That concept that we just covered, when will you be applying it and what could the new results be?” Throughout all your materials, create time for students to be significantly personalising all that is covered. If you want to take it to the next level, get each student to be sharing their personalisation items with the class.
Strategy Number 3- Focus on Rapport
Rapport is a term that is often loosely thrown around in sales, marketing, persuasion and even social psychology. Yet in the training environment it is even more important. There are two aspects to Rapport in a training room. There is Rapport between the trainer and the group, both online and offline training, as well as Rapport between the members of the group.
Rapport is a sense of comfort and likeness and a sense of connection. It isn’t necessarily that they LIKE each other, but there is a sense of a commonality. If Rapport isn’t built effectively then the training event can go pear shaped.
So how do we effectively build rapport? Not by doing what most do. Read on….
1. Rapport between Trainer and Group
Many trainers will aim to build rapport with their group via a trainer self intro. Which is a great admirable strategy, however where it goes wrong is the trainer provides irrelevant self intro credibility that has little to no relevance to the topic at hand. So rule of any self intro- Any items presented must relate to the topic, the group you are training and must position you as the humble expert that was once just like them.
2. Rapport between Group members
This is usually done through ‘Ice Breakers’. There are ice breakers that work, and one’s that don’t. If you are still doing the following ice breaker, please stop immediately- “Stand up, tell the class one interesting thing about yourself and why you have come to the class!“ As an audience member we cringe when we hear it. As a trainer, we might have done it as it was all we were ever taught. But here is the thing, purpose of an ice breaker is to build COMFORT and POSITIVE feelings. As such if we plan our ice breakers with those intentions in mind we might approach it differently as the last thing you want to hear is “My name is Mary, I have 5 cats and I am here because my boss told me I had to come.” AWKWARD!!!! And trainers are then left wondering how to recover from the situation…
So here is some of my favourite ice breaker questions- And they may not be what you expect-
1. Tell someone your name, industry you work in and what you love most about doing the job you do?
2. Tell someone your name and what inspired you to get into the line of work you do.
3. Tell someone your name and the biggest highlight of your career so far…
I am sure by now you can see that we want to create an atmosphere of positivity up front and get people comfortable to connect and learn. You need to pick the questions that will do that.
Strategy Number 4-Focus on Engagement
Now ‘Engagement’ again is a loose term that is thrown around in many contexts but what does it actually mean? For the purposes of this blog, we will define it as ‘Response’ from an audience. You want to be able to build an atmosphere of people sitting on the edge of their proverbial online seats or real seats hungering to know what is about to happen. How do we do this….. well it all comes back to your ability to create one thing…. The one that that makes all the difference, the one thing that will get your students coming back, excited to learn….. and that is your ability to create ‘Strategic Suspense’. You see when you create suspense and wonder about what is coming next…. People will always want more. Keep them curious and guessing and you will have the engagement you are looking. The cliff hangers done well throughout a training session is what keeps people’s attention.
Strategy Number 5- Focus on Retention
Retention in the training context comes down to, how much information is being retained by students. Many trainers fall into the train of Teaching Content, as opposed to focusing on Getting existing content to stick. When you shift your focus to ‘Speaking to be Remembered’ you will find your learners will appreciate it so much more and they will notice how much they have learnt with you and your organisation.
Strategy Number 6- VAK Balance
Many trainers have had the visual, auditory and the kinaesthetic learning styles concepts and how to cater to each drilled into them during their TAE or other training courses. But ultimately it is not about how well you can do one style or another, it is how much variety you can bring into your training room. The more variety of each type of learning activity you have the more you will have optimal learner engagement and intake of information. No two learners are ever the same so we need to be as flexible as we can in our delivery methods, this applies to both online and offline.
Strategy Number 7- ‘Powerful Self Reflection & Future reflection, that creates referrals.’
Ok so here is the really juicy part. How can we organically build value in learners minds and create raving fans at the same time? Here is the trick, at the end of each session/ week long course or however long study duration might be for your learners do the following-
Step 1- Get each student to do a learning inventory, i.e write down the top 8-10 things that they learnt during their course that impacted them the most.
Step 2- Share with a small group what is their top 3 things from their list and why for each.
Step 3-Share how they will implement the learnings going forward, specificity is key. Where and how?
Now you will find that as people do this they will start to plan and visualise in their own mind how they will activate the knowledge, and this is the exciting part as you will find learners come alive with new possibilities and the enrolments from word of mouth will increase as people walk away ‘owning’ the information, not just learning it.
Raving fans can be created but it is through an organisational culture that this happens and it must flow through the marketing, the training and all aspects of the business.
Hope that the above strategies were helpful and if you have any questions about the above or would like to find out more about PD workshops that RTO Leadership Institute runs please call or email us [email protected]
RTO Leadership Institute.