Imagine the following scenario:

You are the trainer in this 1-day personal development workshop. There are 50 participants in the room. You have just delivered the first session. While scanning the room, you notice your participants are unresponsive. Some of them appear to be lost too. What are you going to do?

How many of you would continue teaching the next session? I know some of you would choose to continue teaching. However, let me ask you these questions – What is your reason for continuing the teaching? Do you simply want to get the job done? Would it be fair for your participants to receive additional information from you when they might have been lost after the first session? I hope these questions make sense to you.

My reason for teaching is to share what I know with my participants and inspire them through my sharing. As a result, my focus is always on my participants and I am deeply concerned with their learning. Therefore, I will adopt a different approach if the above situation arises in my training. Further, as a certified trainer in the Accelerated Learning Method, I have to make sure that my participants are kept engaged and involved at all times. This means that if I cannot get any assurance from them that they are ready to move on to the next session, I cannot proceed further. How many of you can relate to this?

In this article, please allow me to share with you my thought and tactics if I notice my participants are unresponsive during my training:

1. Ask specific questions

In this situation, you can ask general question like “how are you guys doing so far?” Because of the way the question is phrased, it is normal to get either an “ok” response or even no response from the participants. Here is the deal. Is this really what you want to hear from your participants? Can you ask a better question?

I feel that it is important to ask specific question like “what have we learnt so far?” Because of the way the question is phrased, participants cannot simply respond in a “yes”, “no” or “ok” manner. By inviting the participants to participate, it would help them to recall what they have just learnt. It might be the case that some participants would raise their hands to ask questions or seek further clarification regarding the topic. In any case, you are assured to receive some concrete response from your originally unresponsive participants.

2. Partner sharing or small group discussion

Let’s say after asking specific questions, you still do not receive any expected response from your participants. What else can you do? Firstly, please stay calm.I understand that many trainers at this juncture might start blaming themselves for not having done a good job. If you lose faith on yourself as a trainer, the entire training session would fail miserably. Therefore, you must stay positive and believe that you would be able to find means to solicit response from your participants.

Perhaps your participants have yet to gain confidence in speaking out loud from their seats. Why don’t you invite them to do a quick partner sharing or small group discussion about what they have just learnt? If one group starts talking, the others will follow. Suddenly, the whole training room will be noisy like a music concert.

After the partner sharing or small group discussion, you can then open the floor and invite response from your participants. I believe after this process, there should be someone who would be willing to stand up and share.

Do remember to acknowledge your participants for their participation and sharing. This would help them to build their confidence and they might begin to be more willing to share and respond to you in the next session.

I hope you will find my sharing useful. Visit my website as you would find a lot of useful tips I share on public speaking. Please leave me with your comments on my website too as I would love to hear from you.

Author's Bio: 

After working in the corporate world for 16 years as an international tax lawyer, Jack Wong is now an entrepreneur working from home, allowing him to spend more time with his family. He specialises in coaching his clients to identify their passion in life, and how to make money from home.

For more details, check out Jack's Websites at and