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How do you increase learner participation and avoid your training becoming tedious and repetitive?How do you stop people signing into your training event and being distracted by emails popping onto their screen?

Here are 8 ideas to open up  your training sessions to become more collaborative and less about you presenting

  1. Focus Sessions

Divide the group into small groups (Most virtual online training platforms have this facility) ask participants to express their thoughts and views on the question asked by the Trainer. Select a leader for each group with the responsibility for ensuring sharing, fair treatment and staying on task.


Ask for a vote on a topic. Can be used to gauge opinions before a topic is discussed and repeated to understand if group has moved on Polls are available on Most online training platforms but if this is not available Polls could be run as

  • Verbal yes or no
  • Written as handout
  • Raising of hands

3.Mix up groups

Trainer gives a topic to be discussed and learners are allocated break out room and a leader assigned . After prearranged time members of group divide with each member going into a different group which has likewise been divided. This creates new groups and again the same topic is discussed but with the insight gained from the previous groupings. Only the Group Leaders remain in place. Again this is a feasible option on most online platforms)


Used for face to face events. A circle within a circle is formed. The inner circle discuss an issue while the outer circle observes and makes notes. At the end of the prearranged time limit, the outer circle provides feedback and ask questions. The 2 groups then change places and repeat the exercise in order that both groups experience both aspects. An adaptation for online training-learners are assigned groups prior to the training they then go online and discuss the topic and record their discussion and it works in much the same way.

  5.Panel discussions

Divide a group of learners based on their strong opinions about a subject. Then place learners with similar outlooks into a panel for them to make a case for their opinion -the remaining learners become the audience and can ask questions of the panel. (Much like a panel discussion on TV)

        6. Case Studies

Using real life case studies in discussions are a great way to increase participation especially if participants can relate to the case study.Trainers often feel that onus to provide case studies is entirely upon them -why not challenge participants to come to the session equipped with a case study suitable for group discussion. (Instruct them to ensure that all personal information is removed from the documentation)

        7.Response cards

Learners use either pre-prepared cards or create themselves and use them to respond to questions or situations provided by the trainer. They can be a simple Yes or No or include other comments . Works well online as outline platforms often have response buttons such as thumbs up or smiley face.


Great as both a recap method or simply to give participants a break from your voice. Assign each person a topic , provide preparation time and have them present back to the main group. Easily adapted to online platforms provided participants have had time to prepare their presentation slides before the session.


          Bonus tip -work outside the meeting

Just becasue you are working online it doesn’t mean that you need to keep people glued to their seats.With the right instructions why not let learners go off and reseach a topic (perhaps in pairs) and after an alotted time return back to the online meeting with their findings. Brings energy and life to your lessons.

Stuck for more ideas on how to make your online training sessions more participative or looking to increase engagement? why not book a free 20 minute call with me ?