How do you start your volunteer training sessions? Does it go something like… “Welcome, I am so glad you are here” or ”My name is” or ”Today we will be talking about” or ”Let us pray and get started?”
As you open the session, what are your volunteers thinking? My first thought might be, “I hope this speaker is good” or “I hope this isn’t a waste of my time” or maybe “this is going to be a long hour of training.”
How you introduce your training time is vitally important. Begin the session with a creative, engaging, interesting introduction that draws the audience in and grabs their attention. Don’t just use the typical lecture format with handouts, power point slides, followed by a question/answer at the end of the training.
Too often I have attended training events and workshops and have observed a variety of speakers using the lecture format only. It isn’t that the speaker hasn’t spent hours putting together the material or that the topic isn’t needed. Often the presenter has put together a good power point presentation and produced very informative handouts, only to have the material forgotten by the very next day.
How much information do we remember? According to data in the area of memory retention, we retain only 10 percent of what we read; 20 percent of what we hear; 30 percent of what we see; 50 percent of what we see and hear; but a full 80 percent of what we experience.
How can you train volunteers to remember the material and enjoy the training? Make it a training session that they “experience.” One way is to use a catchy illustration to introduce the topic. Make sure the illustration is relevant to the subject and interesting. Think of ways to use object lessons as you introduce your topic and require audience participation.
Below is an illustration I have used several times to introduce the topic; “Why Children are Important in God’s Kingdom.” This illustration can also be used to introduce a training session on the characteristics of children, the learning styles of children, or discipline techniques for children.
The Lollipop Kids
Bag of lollipops (variety of flavors) one for each participant
Basket large enough to hold all the lollipops
What to Do:
Put a basket full of lollipops at the door where you will be hosting your training. Ask each person to take one. Tell them not to eat their lollipops until directed.
Today, I brought some lollipops for each of you. If you look around the room you will see that we all have different flavors of lollipops. The lollipop you selected at the door is probably the flavor you like the best. Did you know that God created different flavors of children? Yes, God created all children different, with different looks, shapes, personalities, learning abilities, gifts, and family backgrounds. Each child has a unique flavor created by God with a purpose and plan for their life (Jeremiah 29:11).
Now I want you to take the wrapper off and taste the lollipop. How does it taste? That’s right, it is sweet and taste good. Did you know that all children are sweet to God?
As you get to the middle of the lollipop you will find a chewy tootsie roll. The tootsie roll is a bit more difficult to eat and requires a bit more effort. Some children are chewy like the tootsie roll and are a bit more difficult to teach or to embrace, but God loves them all. You see, God created each child in His image (Genesis 1:26). He has a plan and purpose for each child and has given them unique gifts to use for His kingdom purposes (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). God desires that we embrace every child sweet and chewy and give them every opportunity to learn, know, and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Enjoy the flavor of every child and teach them the love of Jesus.
The topic has been introduced, you have pulled them in, and now you have their full attention!