• Nonprofit Learning Lab

How to Manage Attendees Expectations as a Trainer or Facilitator

Updated: Jul 20


If you have organized a meeting, led a training, facilitated a workshop, you know that it takes some thoughtful planning to manage and lead participants effectively. Managing participants that have to attend a mandatory training, often requires some advance preparation for the training and anticipating how to effectively managing participants that are required to attend the workshops, orientation or training. As a trainer, you need to be prepared.


Adults attending a training, workshop or orientation have certain expectations and can quickly become disengaged, if the trainer is not prepared. Trainers and facilitations working with adults need to make sure to incorporate components of andragogy which is the method and practice of teaching adult learners created by Malcolm Knowles.


A few questions to reflect upon as you prepare for a training that might include participants that are required to attend:

  1. Is this a mandatory training?

  2. Do you know if participants are required to attend?

  3. Do participants want to be at the training?

  4. Do you provide framing and context for the training?

  5. Is there a clear goal for the training?

  6. Are you fully prepared as the trainer and facilitator with sharing and explaining your content?


Mandatory Trainings

Adult learners like to direct their own learning experiences. So, being required to attend a mandatory training doesn't necessarily align wth the theory of andragogy as explored in The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development by Malcolm Knowles. One strategy to overcome this misalignment or obstacle is for trainers and facilitators to frame the "why" behind the mandatory training.


If an attendees comes to a training because they are required to attend, what will will the attendee great from the experience? Are the takeaways and "why" explained and framed to the attendee in the first 1, 2 or 3 or 5 minutes of the training? Are you able to incorporate stories and examples from past participants that benefited from the training? Think about a story that you can share from a past participant who has benefited from the training perhaps a past participants help with an introduction to the training to make it even more relevant. Lastly, is the framing and context for the training emailed to attendees in advance so that that everyone has more context before logging in or arriving?


Framing mandatory trainings with a focus on the why and what the participants will gain from the experience can help create an environment wherein participants will more likely want to attend even if it is mandatory.


If you are stuck on how to frame the benefits of your training, try using one of the example frames below:

  • This training helped a past participant by...

  • An past participant of this training utilized XYZ skills learned and accomplished...


Looking for more resources and insights on facilitation and training? Check out our Train the Trainer workshop which focused on train the trainer best practices, facilitation skills, presentation skills, public speaking in front of groups, program design, adult learning and more. Our Train the Trainers workshop is hosted both online and in-person. We hope you can join us!