TRAINING TIP 27: Time Marches On

By Edwin Pauzer posted 10-02-2017 10:11


Time can be the great scourge of training. How can I start on time if only a few people have arrived? How do I get them back from the break on time? How do I finish on time?

Starting on Time:

If you don’t start on time, you are punishing people who are punctual and you are rewarding people who arrive late. Your other dilemma is starting on time and having to repeat it for the late arrivals. Start with an energizer or an exercise.

  • Ask the on-time arrivals to fill out a sheet with their names, favorite movie, food, hobby, sport, vacation spot, or how many years they are with the agency
  • Have “worry envelopes” available for people who don’t want to be there. Ask them to write down why they don’t want to be there and what they would rather be doing. Just writing these things down will relieve some of their tension. Ask them to put their list into the envelope and seal it.

Getting them back from the breaks:

  • At the beginning of the class, ask for a volunteer from each group. When the hands are raised announce that the person to the left or right of the raised hand is now the table captain and will be responsible for getting people back from the break on time, and that the last person to return will be the new table captain. 
  • Keep breaks short. Don’t give people time to settle in to a cell phone call or communal conversation. Announce an odd time to be back. Asking people to be back from the break at 10:38 will be easier to recall than 10:40.

Here are some more ideas from the Trainers Warehouse:

  • Have a huge timer in the class where the red gets smaller and smaller, so people can see how much time they have left.
  • Ring a chime or a gong. The familiar sound will let people know it’s time to return.
  • Establish a clapping sequence and have all participants join in.
  • Play a familiar song when you are ready to start.
  • If you’re a good storyteller, start with a cliffhanger just before the break, but save the end for when the break is over. Those who return late will miss it.
 Tell them you will be sharing a really good joke when the break is over. (Make sure it’s a real daisy cutter)
  • Ask the group to help set the rules. People who establish their own rules are likely to stick by them.
  • Play “On-Time Poker.” At the start of the session, pass out two cards to each participant. Give each of them who return on time another card. At the end of the day, the participant with the best hand wins a prize or at least gets a round of applause. 

Finishing on Time:

This is a must. To be blissfully unaware that you have gone overtime is to assume that whatever you have to teach them is more important than what they have to do afterward. You will have to speed up your training or slow it down accordingly.

  • Lecture or eliminate an exercise to speed up the training.
  • Use exercises such as brainstorming or windowpaning to slow it down.

 What Not to Do:

  • Never embarrass someone by calling attention to his or her lateness.
  • Some recommend making the latecomer tell a joke or sing a song. The problem with this is if you have several latecomers it becomes laborious and consumes too much time. Always assume that you might have someone painfully shy who would feel humiliated by the experience.