Looking at training design through a behaviour change lens could be beneficial for training effectiveness. At the end of the day, our intention is to get people to do things differently after a training.

I’ve reviewed my fair share of training content and sat through many of them. Nine out of ten times I’m left wishing that behavioural science principles were applied, even during some behavioural science trainings! 

Here are four behavioural science-backed tactics that will help you design engaging trainings! 

Chunking (Gobet et al, 2001)

As the name implies, it is good practice to break up information to aid its processing. The key thing here is to ensure that the information receiver still views the bits of information as a whole. NN Group have a couple of good examples. Breaking up information into tidbits makes it easier for our brains to process.

Elaboration (Petty et al, 2009)

Elaboration is about allowing your audience to create their own meaning of the information that you are conveying. It is good practice to let people make their own connections between concepts and form their own metaphors. A good way to do this is to design workshops instead of one-way trainings, or at least have highly interactive moments within trainings to allow for this connection building. A great example of the application of elaboration is problem-based learning. While it is designed for educational settings, it can easily be translated to training in professional settings.

Guided practice (Kelder et al, 2015)

 Also known as ‘I Do, We Do, You Do’ in educational settings, guided practice is a very powerful skills-building tactic that can be translated to training settings. The premise is around offering people the opportunity to try applying the skills that you shared with them in a real-life situation. A key aspect is that there is an opportunity to discuss their experience and get feedback and direction on how to improve application of the newly acquired skill. A good example is Acumen Academy and IDEO’s Human-Centred Design training module.

Public commitment (Ajzen et al, 2009)

Just as we know that knowledge is not enough to drive behaviour change, having teams attend trainings without a mechanism to follow-up on what they learnt is a missed opportunity. Public commitment can be operationalised in the form of accountability groups. According to Forbes (2023), accountability groups can lead to:

  1. Increased motivation and productivity
  2. A sense of community.
  3. Improved goal-setting skills.
  4. Increased accountability.
  5. Enhanced problem-solving skills.
  6. A new discipline.
  7. Improved communication skills.
  8. Increased confidence.
  9. Networking opportunities.
  10. Personal and professional growth.

What other behavioural science-backed tactics would you recommend to improve trainings? Share them with me here!