What’s in It for Me?

That’s the burning question facilitators must answer for learners for every training program they lead.

Training is never about you, the trainer. It’s not an ego trip to flaunt your talents or skills. Training is about using your talents and skills to benefit others. It’s about the takeaways of your learners: sharpening hard or soft skills to improve job performance, building a talent pipeline, preventing stagnation, improving customer satisfaction, increasing organizational profitability and efficiency. And a whole lot more. Anybody signing up for your training will have one burning question: What’s in it for me?

Think of the last time you challenged yourself to learn something new. Perhaps you enrolled in a tough course or studied a foreign language or took up golf or pickleball. Remember the frustration you may have felt. The oopses you may have made. It’s all too easy to forget what it’s like when you’re trying to learn something. Put yourself in your learners’ shoes to better understand the challenges they may be facing so you can provide them with the support and confidence they need to be successful.

Here are some other tips:


Before you conduct a training session, you need to understand several things about the audience in order to create an effective and engaging session:

  • What jobs do they perform?
  • What motivates them?
  • Are they technical, non-technical, or a combination?
  • Are they all within the same company?
  • What’s their level of knowledge?
  • Do they have any special needs or learning preferences?
  • What goals are they trying to achieve?


Steer clear of the data-laden, boring, linear, static slides trainers often inflict upon their audiences one after another. When people are asked why they dread going to a mandatory training session, they generally say it’s because they’re expected to sit and listen to a boring speaker and watch a seemingly endless slide presentation. They forget everything they heard or learned shortly thereafter because their minds went numb.

It’s valuable to show slides to enhance a story or share important information. But keep the slides simple and to a minimum.


Personalizing a session can have numerous benefits, such as improving engagement and retention of information, increasing motivation, and catering to individual needs and preferences—creating a more targeted and relevant learning experience. Here are a few suggestions for customizing the experience:

  • Clearly communicate the benefits and how the session will help learners improve their skills and achieve their goals.
  • Ask what their challenges are as they relate to the topic, and suggest possible solutions to those challenges. This means being flexible and not sticking to a rigid outline.
  • Create opportunities for them to share their own experiences and perspectives.
  • Encourage them to ask questions.
  • Offer feedback and coaching throughout the session to help them see their progress.
  • Follow up after the session to assess outcomes. This will help you continuously polish your session.


Yes, you should include storytelling in your training sessions. Stories are a central part of the human existence; they’re common to every known culture and crucial to our understanding of the world, ourselves, and all that’s around us.

A story could be about the success of a learner you had in one of your sessions. (Create a name for the person to personalize the story.) “As a result of (xxx), Fran won a large grant.” “Emile became a better manager.” “Abdul adapted the new methodology and went on to train others.” Or the story can be about a failure. “Raul didn’t follow the protocol he learned, and the project was put in jeopardy.” Both positive and negative stories can create a sense of validation, understanding, and lessons learned.


Group activities can work for any size audience. If the audience is large (even hundreds), break them into logical groups of rows or sections. If your group is small (10 to 30), provide hands-on experiences in pairs or small groups.

Here are some activities to consider:

  • Case studies
  • Role-play
  • Brainstorming
  • Buzz groups
  • Debate sessions
  • Gamification
  • Interactive infographics

Engaging activities can have several benefits, including: increasing retention, improving motivation and participation, enhancing the overall learning experience, and adding enjoyment. When people are engaged, they tend to think critically, solve problems, and apply their knowledge in practical ways. Always start an activity by punctuating it with the benefit of what they’ll learn—that’s what’s in it for them.

Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts
Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts has been a training professional for the last 25 years. She’s the author of 25 books, including “New Rules for Today’s Workplace,” “Speaking Your Way to Success,” “Technical Writing for Dummies,” “Storytelling for Dummies,” and several other Dummies books. She’s been quoted in The New York Times and other publications and has appeared on radio and television networks throughout the United States.