Posted on: February 1, 2016
Author: Dr. Ken Brown

Part 1 of 3

EMU Experience LogoRutA habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.

Does that definition describe your one-day or multi-day training course?

What if you could break down your day-long (or multi-day) course into distinct phases, apply some unique techniques to each phase and deliver a reinvented training course that isengaging, memorable and unexpected?

The EMU Experience is what you create when you deliver a training course that is:

  • Engaging
  • Memorable
  • Unexpected

This three-part blog series over the next three weeks (Feb. 1, Feb. 8 and Feb. 15) breaks down a typical one-day training course into 13 distinct phases and gives you practical techniques that you can easily apply in each phase.

The end result: A uniquely engaging, memorable and unexpected training experience for both the trainer and the participants.

Phase 1. Marketing and Promotion of your Training Course

You officially open your course "for business" and begin informing your current and future clients via email, social media and your website.

Question is: Is your marketing engaging, memorable and unexpected?

EMU Experience Hollywood Video Trailer ExampleThe EMU Experience Strategy:

Create a video trailer for your course by following the Hollywood model.

  • Start with a 30-second teaser trailer, or
  • Release some "secret" footage or trailer footage that someone recorded with an iPhone (it happens at Comic-Con every year).
  • Respond to that unofficial release by releasing the official trailer.

Phase 2. Registration

In this phase, potential customers come to your course page, read the outline/agenda and register for the course.

The EMU Experience Strategy:

Take the opportunity here to collect some additional information about your future participants:

  • Name
  • Company
  • Years in the industry
  • Area of specialty
  • Email
  • Social media contacts
  • Headshot/Social media photo
  • Any other information you would like to collect

Use this information to create a slide for each participant in your course. Put all of these slides into a slide deck and show it during the 20-30 minutes prior to the start of your course. You could also run it at breaks as well. 

Why do this? Networking. Displaying this information about the participants in your course can help those with similar interests to more easily network with one another.

Phase 3. Post-Registration Communications

In the weeks and days leading up to your course, you have an opportunity to communicate with your registrants and begin the process of setting their expectations for what they will have to invest (time, effort) and what they will get out of the course.

The EMU Experience Strategy:

EMU Experience Coaching StaffIs there someone back in the office who will hold a given employee accountable for what they learn in your course? Does this employee enter your training course knowing that they will have to report back on what they learned and how they will apply that new knowledge in their job?

Manager accountability is a powerful motivator. Use it!

If you are training coworkers within your company, this gets even better.

  • Set up those pre- and post-training manager/employee meetings.
  • Coach the managers on what their role is and the questions to ask during the pre-training meeting.
  • Especially coach them for the post-training meeting, as this will be where the accountability becomes real.

They need to understand what behavior changes to expect from their employees.

These meetings are powerful in creating a motivated mindset (Bob Pike explained this extensively in his book, Creative Training Techniques.) 

Imagine participants coming into your course ready and motivated to learn. Crazy concept, right?

Phase 4. The Day-Of "Ramp Up"

The 10-15 minutes leading up to the official start of your course is a phenomenal opportunity to get your participants going. What does that mean and how do you do it?

The EMU Experience Strategy:

Let's paint the "Ramp Up" picture. It's 8:15 am and your course is scheduled to begin at 8:30 am. Most of your participants have already arrived, but they are just sitting, checking email and stuff.

So how can you prepare them for a day of engaging learning? Prepare a question/task ahead of time, put it on a slide, and show that slide 10-15 minutes before the start of your course.

Example “Ramp Up” question: Write down three things you want to learn in this workshop. Then, discuss these with your neighbor.

BOOM! You've got them working and talking before the course even begins. For the introverts in the room (like me), this gives them additional processing time to think through the question/task. And exactly what information are you asking them for?

Their expectations – you’re asking them what they want to learn in your course.

This is a question you are going to ask them anyway - after the intros and agenda - so you're not wasting their time with busy work.

You NEVER engage in an activity just to waste time.

The Day-Of “Ramp Up" is a beautifully easy and powerful tool. Use it.

Phase 5. The First 30

Your participants are watching and evaluating you intently during the first 30 minutes. They are mentally running through their list of expectations and giving you and your course a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

How can you make the most of this time?

The EMU Experience Strategy:

Everyone is getting settled in during the first 30 minutes. You're getting into your rhythm and your participants are evaluating you and mentally mapping out how this course will go.

They're wondering: How much work will they have to do? How much of the time will you, the trainer, talk? What exactly will they learn here today? When's the first break? What’s for lunch?

Or maybe they are already coming to the conclusion that "This is just like every other training course. It’s what I expected."

Use this First 30 to show them exactly how your course is NOT like every other training course.Do something completely unexpected here.

Yes, the "Day-Of Ramp Up" (Phase 4) was probably unexpected, but its impact was minimal. You want to do something BIG and BOLD here. You want their participation throughout the course, but you shouldn't have to say, "I want your participation throughout this course." Or wag your finger at them. Never wag your finger.

EMU Experience 99 Seconds99 Seconds is the activity I invented just for this time. It’s basically 99 seconds of improv where each participant teaches the group how to use a familiar, everyday item. And it serves a purpose for me, especially in my Train-the-Trainer workshop, as it clearly shows me each participant’s default style of teaching. Yes, I could ask them to describe their teaching style to me. But in only 99 seconds, I collect all the information I need.

99 Seconds is nerve-wracking and challenging for your participants but it’s informative, fun and memorable for everyone.

Every activity you do in class should have a purpose and/orpoint back to a learning objective. In reality, the only activity I do that isn't directly related to learning is the one I do coming back from breaks. Speaking of...

In next week's post, I will provide other break ideas and how to keep your course attendees engaged.


About the Author

Ken Brown, Chief EMU WranglerAs Chief EMU Wrangler at The EMU Experience, LLC, Ken helps learning professionals deliver engaging, memorable and unexpected learning experiences. By teaching practical techniques to purposefully increase student engagement, along with methods that incorporate creativity into the design and delivery process, Ken will help you create a learning experience that is engaging, memorable and unexpected. 

Want to learn more? Subscribe to Ken’s blog at or email Ken -

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