When watching many trainers, quite often I see people getting so caught up in the moment they lose track of their audience and the level of engagement.  Many factors make up a great training session but too often, one of the essential human needs is forgotten about in the quest to get everything covered in the time frame:

I’ve often talked about the importance of meeting the human needs first and foremost when delivering training and there are many reasons that you should always give regular breaks despite your agenda. What then are the reasons regular breaks are so important?

Consolidation of learning – Our brain needs time to consolidate what it’s been learning so it can process it.  If we overload the brains, they will stop being able to take on more information so a break will give some vital consolidation time.  For reflective types of learners, this often involves a period such as overnight to process and consolidate.  A consolidation period will often to promote questions that may not have been apparent when the lesson was covered. Ever noticed in the past that some people will return from breaks with questions?  This is because they have been going through the consolidation process on their break which has led them to process and question parts of the learning.

Concentration/engagement levels – It’s a well-known researched fact that our brain has a maximum concentration time on average of around 30-40 minutes at its peak before it starts to drop off quite dramatically.  If we try to extend the training sessions too far, you are going to start to see the concentration levels drop through a lack of engagement so if you do; it’s time for a well-needed break to re-energise!

Post lunch nap times - After a meal, we are also likely to have a period when our brain wants to slow down while our body works hard on digesting the food you’ve just eaten.  Giving ice breaker exercises and keeping first sessions after lunch to a maximum of 30 mins with then a break will help you keep people “in the room”.

They help build rapport – You know when everyone goes for a break including a leg stretch/tea or coffee people will generally start to have a chat and build rapport.  This is an excellent thing for people that have just met each other so encourage that conversation during break times by such means as asking for interesting facts and past experiences in your sessions which will often become talking points.

When you deliver training, are you guilty of pushing timings too far?  Do you see the engagement levels drop?  I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past and if you also have, you need to have more regular breaks.  When you do, make note the changes that occur with learning, concentration and engagement!

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.