You need three hours to cover the topic. Management gives you two. Do you divide the content into two workshops? Do you find a way to influence management or do you reschedule? The meeting room was double-booked. Do you reschedule your training or do you pare down your workshop by a half hour?

Like most trainers, you're probably used to time constraints such as these. But what about time problems that arise during the training meeting? Maybe discussion is so strong, you spend more time on a learning point. Or perhaps you have one too many tangents during an activity debriefing. How do you handle those? What can you do to avoid that sinking feeling you get when you realize you won't cover all the learning objectives without going over time? Well, here are some common problems and potential solutions to keep you on track and help you make the most of your training time.

You know the feeling. We've all been there. The presenter or keynote speaker is droning on and on and on and as much as you try you can't stop your chair from feeling harder; your eyes from glazing over, or your thoughts from drifting away to anything but the subject at hand. It can be torture, especially on a warm afternoon.

Well as a trainer you're in luck. You needn't do much more than ask a few questions to save your trainees from a similar fate. But to excel as a trainer requires a bit more. It requires that you ask a lot of questions. It requires that you probe for more than just surface answers. It requires that you inspire participants to figure it out themselves. Why? Because adult learners are usually capable and experienced; and deserve to be treated as such. After all, a good trainer is really nothing more than a facilitator, or said another way, a catalyst for learning.


It forces participants to think critically and problem solve. Asking questions engages participants. It involves them in the learning. Best of all, asking questions forces them to create their own information, which is much more believable to them than anything you tell them.

You know the look. Arms crossed. Slouched in their seat. Maybe even a furrowed brow. And you wonder is she going to be a silent resister? Or will she pounce at the first thing with which she disagrees? Will he shift and harrumph when his opinion differs from yours? Or, is he going to freely share his negative opinions with others in his group? Will they try to discredit you by respectfully challenging you?

Resistant learners can cause havoc in your training meeting in a variety of ways. Some may silently undermine your training with their body language and gestures. Others may share their negativity covertly, during small group discussions or breaks. Some may verbally challenge every point you make, or try to draw you into an emotional or heated exchange. All can disrupt your training by creating tension and negativity. Here are some ideas for dealing with resistant learners.