Keep Fireworks in Your Training

It’s the Fourth of July, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about fireworks! If you've ever been to a fireworks display, then you know that that big boom brings about a beautiful array of lights and colors and shapes. It's beautiful and fascinating, but have you ever seen a defective fireworks display? Defective fireworks don't present a big boom or even a spark. Those displays are disappointing and uninteresting. This is an article to help you use fireworks effectively to increase learner engagement in your training.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to help a few people improve their training, not to offend...I promise :-)

Fireworks Quiz

Choose the best answer.

What’s the best way to keep fireworks in your training?

  1. Transfer all of my knowledge to others

  2. Have people listen to me talk about everything I know and then have them go back to business as usual

  3. Read to them and expect them to soak up all the knowledge that I’ve dumped on them

  4. None of the above

Why Do We Train?

The correct answer is “D”. As trainers, our goals should be to inspire learning, facilitate a behavior change, and ultimately improve performance when it’s time to apply the new skills. I want to create firework moments for my learners. I get excited when I see the light bulbs come on because they realize how they can apply a learning nugget that I just shared with them!

Create Learning Experiences Instead of Training Events

Learning should be extraordinary experiences, not one-and-done training events. So, how do you keep fireworks in your training? Of course, you need to design your training to have the right content and structure.

In this article, I want to take advantage of the holiday and briefly share five things to avoid in order to keep fireworks in your training.

Things to Avoid

#1--Stop talking so much. Your learners attend your training to do something with the knowledge and skills that you are sharing. They are not there to hear you or others talk. If that’s what you’re planning to do please don’t call it training. You could call it a presentation, briefing, or seminar...but not training! Training involves presentation, application, and skills.

Instead, why not record yourself and make it a podcast. Adults earn best when you involve them in the learning process. Let them be a driver, not a passenger.

#2--Don’t have training without giving learners a map. Allow learners to follow along with you by having a participant guide. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it does have to be directly tied to your learning objectives. Leaving participants with just the sound of your voice and no materials is like going on vacation and not having pictures and souvenirs to remember your trip. You have to make the experience memorable and actionable.

One way to do that is by including materials in your training. You shouldn’t expect them to take notes to get the intended learning nuggets. Give them a map to guide the learning process.

#3--Quit jumping around! Make learning easy for your learners. It is extremely confusing for people to learn when you’re all over the place. Do yourself a favor, and develop a facilitator guide to stay focused, manage your time, and give the learners what they came there for. Don’t frustrate them because you jumped from topic to topic and didn’t cover all of your learning objectives...if you even had any...oops, did I say that out loud :-)

#4--Don’t read to your learners. One sure way to kill the fireworks in your training is to read from your slides. This is a clear indication that you didn’t prepare enough and you have too much information on your slides. If all of your content is on the slides, then why not just give them the slides. Why do they need you to read to them? You’d be better off having a self-directed learning activity. They don’t need you to read to them, and probably feel insulted that you are doing it.

#5--Avoid leaving learning to chance. Having an agenda is not the same thing as designing training. If your goal is learning, developing transferable skills, and improving performance, you have to ensure have the right content and structure by using an instructional systems design. It doesn’t matter which model you use just use one.

You may not be an instructional designer, but you are doing yourself and your learners a disservice by making it up as you go. Yes, I admit that at times you need to let discussions happen organically and address spontaneous learner needs. That’s super important to maximize engagement!

However, it is unacceptable to just wing it when people have spent time and money on your training! Give them what they paid for.

Assess Your Training

To ensure that you keep fireworks in your training even after the Fourth of July, avoid the five things that I shared with you. Not much learning is happening when you are doing these five things. So avoid them if you want to make learning extraordinary and increase learner engagement!

Add to Your Learning Tribe

If you need help with your training...creating the right content, structure, materials, and delivery, please add someone to your learning tribe who has been trained in instructional design and has a qualified trainer background.

Despite what some people believe, being a subject-matter-expert does not mean that you’re a trainer. Think about teachers. They all have expertise in a particular subject however, they still have to be certified as a teacher before having the title. Training is the same way. Build the right team to help you keep fireworks in your training.

Thanks for reading my article and enjoy the Fourth of July holiday! If you want to learn more about making learning extraordinary, you can check out additional resources at or schedule a FREE Rescue My Training Call to discuss your existing training.