How to Use Participant Stories to Keep the Momentum Going



It can be hard to keep the momentum going in a training session, even for the most seasoned of trainers. A lot of factors go into making a training session a success, and one of those factors can be the willingness of your participants to share stories from their own experiences. When you run an exercise that requires people to offer up anecdotes or provide information about previous experiences, your exercise can fall flat if no one wants to ante up a story. Here’s how you can use stories to get the momentum going, and keep it going throughout your training session, and without getting sidetracked.


Tell Your Own Story

One of the most effective ways to get training participants to sit up and pay attention is to tell them a great story about your experiences. If you really want to get their attention, tell a story about a time you failed at something. People love to hear how you bounced back or overcame struggles to get to where you are now. And it will encourage others to share their experiences. When you tell your own stories, you are opening yourself up as someone who is vulnerable and real. That helps participants connect with you, and the training overall.


Link Back to Personal Experiences

No matter what kind of training session you are running, there is someone in the room who has experience in trying to solve a problem related to that training. Whether you are teaching communications, leadership, or a cooking class, someone has a story. Offer the floor to anyone who would like to share their story, so long as it is relevant to the topic at hand. Each time you introduce a new concept or idea, ask if anyone had ever heard of the topic or idea, ask them to share a short story about their experiences with the topic or idea, and ask them to tell you about when it went wrong and went things went right.


Build on Other Stories

While some trainers would dread the thought of a story getting out of control and monopolizing a training session, other trainers see the value in learning from personal experiences. And your participants will too. Provided someone doesn’t take up all your training time with irrelevant stories about terrible experiences they had, you can capitalize on one story by asking participants if they’ve experienced the same kind of things. This links all the participants together creates common ground and reminds people that they are not alone in their experiences, even though it might feel that way at the time.

So whether you are running a training session on accounting, or you are teaching new college instructors how to become effective trainers themselves, using stories is a great way to break down barriers, create a common sense of purpose, and keep the momentum going in your training sessions. You can refer back to other stories throughout your training, use them to link old knowledge with new knowledge, and create a safe space for your participants to share their lives and experiences so that everyone can learn from them.