How to Engage Smaller Training Groups Effectively

engaging smaller training groups


Have you ever been super stoked to conduct a training session to a big group of people, only to arrive and find out that only a fraction of the participants showed up? Nothing can deflate your energy and enthusiasm for training more than having a small group of people when you were expecting a large group. Trainers like large groups of participants because there is more engagement, less silence, more opportunity for everyone to learn, and there is safety in numbers. But now and then you’ll get called upon to teach a small group of 2-3 people, maybe even one person! It’s essential that you are prepared to scale back your training exercises when you find less than the ideal number of participants sitting in a training room. What’s more, you need to have a bag of tricks up your sleeve to make sure you still deliver quality content and engage the students fully. Here are a few strategies for engaging smaller training groups effectively.


Don’t Fill Up Space With your Voice

When trainers first discover that they will be teaching a small group, their first line of defense is to usually keep talking. If you keep talking, then there is no awkward silence, and no one has a chance to complain about the size of the group. While you might feel compelled to bring up the elephant in the room: i.e., the small group of people, avoid doing it. Assure your group that they are going to have a great day of training and carry on with it.


Combination Training Will Work Well

When you have only a few students to train, you might want to get them to pair up for every exercise. To ensure that people have enough time to reflection and learning, allow them to work independently in conjunction with paired exercises. If you only have one student, you act as the partner for the exercises. Don’t deny the learning experience of working with a partner just because there is only one person in the room. Join in on the fun.


Use a Smaller Room

If you were expecting 30 people to show up to your training session and only four people show up, offer to move the training session to a more comfortable space where everyone can see and hear easily. This will create an intimate learning experience, encourage participants to share stories with each other, and create a more robust learning environment without too much difficulty.

When it comes to delivering training to small groups, the important thing to remember is that it is your job to ensure the quality and effectiveness of training. You might come to enjoy working with a few people at once. Don’t try to reschedule with the hope that more people will show up next time. That leaves the people who did show up having to rearrange their schedule again later to take the training and throws off their entire day. Deliver the program you said you would deliver, and you’ll find creative ways to make small groups work great together.