Introducing Delegates

Senior Technical Training Specialist
Marine Industry
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When you deliver a course how do you introduce yourself to your delegates and them to each other? It would help if you gave the approximate number of delegates involved...

"Go round the room" not allowed!


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pair everyone off

give them 2 minutes each to interview the other; to find out

1 who the person is

2 what they do

3 what they want out of the day/course

4 a little secret

then each person presents their colleague into the room in one minute or less

I don't use this every time but quite often it is an appropriate way to open proceedings


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Would your choice of intro depend on age, level in company and number in group?

I say this beacase I think any Trainer should have many ways of intros as they are probably the most important part of any course or session...



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I usually have an activity after the domestics that I do before the introductions - join the dots, if your department were a car, if you were in a circus which role would you adopt etc.


I ask for a volunteer to speak first and then use the volunteer to nominate someone else in the room.  That person speaks, I ask the personal information - name, work area, objective, etc - and they nominate someone else.  At the end, I'm rarely nominated so make a point of adding my response.


It works well for groups up to 15 or so.

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If delegates are going to be together for a day or less then individual stand-up intros are what I use.  If they will be together for 2 days plus (especially of 3 days or more) one method I use builds strong rapport and begins to build trust (especially if there will be small team activities or breakout groups):

1. Give everyone a 15" by 19" white board and pen markers in at least 4 colors;

2. Pair them up and ask them to interview their partner - they should take notes on what their partner says about himself/herself (job, where from, travel experiences, need from the course or whatever you want) HOWEVER, all their notes on the white board must be pictures or symbols - NO WORDS ALLOWED and the other ground rule is - you must use all 4 colors.

3. Then each person stands at place (not front of the room) and introduces the partner showing and using their white board.

Typical results: lots of information comes out and guess what? All the delegates remember the info over the course; lots of laughter at limited artistic abilities; some very interesting individual preferences.

4. When each person finishes their intro of partner I take their white board and post it on the walls; I suggest that more about each person will be revealed so anyone can go to a white board and draw something about the new info.

After the course I keep the best whiteboards and post them on my office walls (I sometimes joke that I'm saving it to show their parents when the delagtes are very young - harking back to scholl days.  And my walls become great conversation starters.

[email protected]     Washington, DC USA

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Looks like you all make quite a big deal out of it (which is good... I think...)

1) Do you do anything with the information you get? If so...What?

2) Do the delegates realise the significance of what just happened?  If so...How?

3) In your experience as a delegate...(we have all been a delegate at sometime)...isn't it the most cringeworthy time of any course and usually handled very badly by the Trainer?

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Before they arrive I get them to write up their name, company and function on a piece of cardboard that they hang around their neck using a piece of knotted string, this is all done before we start thus saving valuable time. I view anything else as airy fairy and an insult modern training techniques.

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The string sounds a bit dangerous if you ask me...

"I view anything else as airy fairy and an insult modern training techniques"

Surely that would depend on the type of course?

In my world, introductions are extremely important and useful, essential some situations I agree, they are pointless...but as a minimum, the Trainer should introduce themselves in a formal sort of way (before the fluffy toys and tennis balls come out to play)

My biggest gripe is that on almost every course I have been a delegate on, I have been asked stuff and absolutely nothing was changed as a result and whatever I asked for as my "wants and needs" were never addressed or even noted down.

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Of course, if it’s a lengthy programme running over several intermittent days I will get the candidates to tattoo this information on their foreheads, thus saving even more time on subsequent dates and overall reducing the environmental impacts of the event.

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Seldom......if there is a clear fact that delegates all know each other very well I might amend slightly......sometimes I ask them to share how long they've been in the busienss/company (I then note this and add it up so I can say that we have 236 years of accumulated experience here which is why I'm not going to teach you how to do your jobs [if this is appropriate]

I love Garry's "paddington bear" reminds me of my old army mugshot for my ID card!

Some courses that I run I base the entire "delivery" on the delegate "wants" and make that very clear from the outset.


I was working in an hotel and there was another training course running concurrently from a well known Insurance company.  They had obviously done the "Delegate Objective" intros and captured them on flipcharts which they then posted in the breakout area; an atrium in the corridor between the Reception Area and the Leisure centre.  The page was headed "Customer Focus Workshop", One Delegate Objective was "An early knock off and a free lunch!".......whilst I was passing through a senior manager was paying a visit to the course, saw this in the public area full of their customers and went absolutely "ape"



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""An early knock off and a free lunch!"......."

That sort of proves my point that Trainers don't take any wants and needs seriously as they have a plan and will stick to the plan no matter what the delegates want...

I would have used that particular delegate to explore the reasons behind the comments...valuable learning for all of the group!

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The delegate attitude probably spoke volumes and may well have been followed up by the trainer, who knows?

Sadly, especially as an associate, you do sometimes find that the client has set such a frantic pace for the programme that you just can't fulfill both client demands and delegate "care" to any real level.  On one programme I was involved in the 12 delegates did 13 exercises in the day that produced 13 X however many syndicates pages of feedback (every one of which the trainer had to collect, type up and return to the client) it was a frantic rush from start to finish and there simply was no time for anything that wasn't "in the plan" these economically difficult times whoever pays the piper does call the tune"!


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"there simply was no time for anything that wasn't "in the plan"

So whats the point of having a Trainer? You might as well just send an exercise book?

Not criticising you but I think the client needs to be sat down and told it's not a Trainer they you have an e mail address?? I don't mind sending it! :-)

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the exercises were aimed at getting the delegates' opinions about what needed to be done and what could and couldn't be changed so it was more "facilitation" than "training"....

As regards your kind offer to set them straight..........I think I'll pass on that one, if you don't mind; it is nice to earn a bit of money to pay the mortgage rather than get you to bite the hand that feeds me



and my kids




and half the staff of the mortgage company

Have a good weekend all


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I find using the Team Shield for introductions is a useful intro, both for me and the attendees.

Before the course starts I prepare a shield that represents myself and the second trainer.

I go through that as our own intro and then split the attendees into teams of 3 or 4 to draw their own shield.

I am a poor artist so they know there is no pressure on their artistic skills and they learn about each other as they draw and then present their shields to the rest of the group.

I ask them to represent both their work and their home life which helps everyone to know the work skills that are in the room and usually throws up some interesting hobbies or experiences. 

I make sure that I pull out any work information that is missing, length of service, previous experience, projects thay have worked on, etc.

I am working with 8 - 16 at a time who may already know one or two of the other attendees.

I particularly like this intro because - when I personally have to participate in an Intro exercise, I don't like working in pairs.  I find it too intimate and contrived.  I will make general conversation to avoid disclosing details about myself.

A bigger working group gets the attendees comfortable with speaking up and the progress on the shields is very visible so that I can keep control of the time progression of the exercise.

In answer to whether they understand the significance of the intros, I make a point of summing up the experience and skills in the room, whether it be good knowledge of the company or other experiences from new starters.  I always say that I will learn the most during the day because of the amount of knowledge in the room.  AND I always do learn such a lot from each and every new group.

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Ask me what I 'want' from a training course is different from asking me what I 'need' from a training course. I avoid both - I ask 'why are you here today?'. It helps to start to identify the developing/fix/tourist groups on the course, it leads to discussion around the learning/training needs of each individual (which I may not have seen), and tends to identify the critical incident that prompted the nomination.

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I think wants and needs sort of go together.

The most important thing is that the Trainer actually listens, makes a note of and makes sure that every single want and need is addressed before the delegates leave.

Otherwise there is no pint in asking.

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was that a deliberate spelling amendment Steve?

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Cheers...never thout you would ask!

London Pride please... :-)


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As someone who tends to work with small groups of up to 20 at a time

I usually try and find out before hand if people know each other or not and that influences the type of intro exercise I use(there are a number that are used depending on what the topic is) as then I can link exercises to the topic from the beginning. As to dealing with participants expectations/ needs of the course. As part of the intro excericise I ask people 'why they are here' which lets you know who as been told to attend( as sometimes happens) so you are aware of particular 'support' those people may need and also do an 'expectations'  list were I ask what  they want or expect to gain from the course / session.

From that list I can let people know what will be covered during the day and if something will not, I state that I will discuss that issue with the person at lunch to see how I can help or signpost. In other words sometimes we cannot cover everything and I have generally found that participants acknowledge and appreciate that fact.

Obviously some of the above may not work with larger groups though I have used 'post it's' around the room with helpers collating and coming up with the  majority of expectations.

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I think you have brought up the most interesting point so far...

"In other words sometimes we cannot cover everything"

Whats the point of teaching something the delegates don't want or need? If I was a delegate in a "we are covering this today whether you like it or not" course I wouldn't be very happy!

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Interesting debate.  I'd like to pick up on the difference between wants and needs.

A delegate may not 'want' to cover a particular point (or at least not highlight it as a want in any intro), but from your analysis and discussions with key stakeholders, you as the trainer know that they 'need' to cover it.

If you follow your totally responsive approach, and say 'hey, you don't want it guys, let's ditch it', aren't you doing a disservice to the business you work with?

Maybe a little extreme as an example, but in my opinion (and opinion is all it is), it's not always as black and white.

I get paid to understand what the business needs, and deliver on that, sometimes regardless of what the delegates themselves think that they need / want - whilst I like to be as flexible and responsive as possible, the content has been signed off by the sponsor, and if I don't deliver against that, I won't be in a job for long!

As with a previous poster, I'll happily signpost this up front to delegates as part of the contracting / expectation management process.

For me, the key to getting it right is to try and ensure that managers and delegates are having the right quality of conversation in advance of an event so minimise the 'I don't need this', 'I was sent' type of responses to the intro, whatever form that takes.

Best wishes,


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Hi Ian

Very difficult one to answer as every course and every delegate is different, including, as you say, organisational wants and needs.

We produce a factsheet for every course that states exactly what will happen after the course (ie what you will be able to do) As long as this happens we have done our job and how we get to that point can be as flexible as possible to allow for delegate wants and needs.

I really believe that strict scheduels are a thing of the past and as long as the course achieves it's aims, how it achieves them is up to the Trainer. As a delegate I wouldn't have it any other way, nothing worse than a Trainer sticking to a plan and not addressing my particular wants and needs.


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Absolutely agree Steve - I don't think I mentioned at any point sticking to a strict schedule to achieve the required outcomes, and I'm more than happy to shape the programme depending on what comes out of the intro's.

I guess the point I was trying to make is that I see no harm in managing a delegates expectations - if their 'want' is a tangent to the main learning outcomes, I have no issue with explaining that it won't be covered during the day, and why it won't be covered; but this is what I'll do to help them find out more about it, whether that be during any breaks in the programme, further reading and so on.

I don't think that makes me any less of a trainer, or one that doesn't respond to the delegates needs.

Best wishes,


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Hi again

"if their 'want' is a tangent to the main learning outcomes"

That's why course Factsheets are important. An accurate Factsheet and 1 or 2 e mails explaining what will happen on the day and almost any delegate missunderstandings are resolved.

A course must do what is says on the tin...if someone goes in to the butchers and asks for a pound of strawberries they should have looked at the sign on the door first.

There is usually a particular item/agenda in everyones mind when they attend a fact I do surveys quite often and "what's in it for me" is always the No 1 reason to attend a course.

If the Trainer captures this at the start and actually delivers before the end then it has been a successful course. I can't think of 1 single course I have ever been on where this has happened.

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If enough people go in to the shop and ask for strawberries, wouldn't the butcher need to consider:
A need to stock strawberries
Query why people are asking for strawberries
Find someone else local who can offer strawberries
Put a sign up saying 'WE DON'T STOCK STRAWBERRIES'
Consider stocking tinned strawberries

The butcher who says 'we don't do them' may not encourage people to come back for what they do stock...

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"The butcher who says 'we don't do them' may not encourage people to come back for what they do stock..."

Thats how you get a confused Trainer who has no idea what he/she is Training


Confused delegates who have no idea why they are there

Training should be like any other product. After this course you will be able to x,y,z...that way nobody is confused.

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Hi Steve,

I usually

a) let fill in cards (if number of participants does allow for it) which are pinned on boards...when people come the time of waiting is also intelligently filled (useful in unpunctual societies!)...on the cards I ask for
e.g. name, company/institution, position/function and profession/education and the end of the training I want to.......(so I get a bit about expecations which I can compare with my proposed learning objectives and indicators)

b) sometimes I combine a) with taking a photo for the documentation and for display at the board..´with the cards

c) and I combine this pre-start of training/meeting task with a sociographic exercise (can't be done for too huge crowds)

where I ask people 5 - 6 questions and give them each time  alternatives and a space where to gather with peers (and eventually introduce themselves within the groups),

e.g. who has done studies in economics (go to corner one of the room), social sciences (go to corner two) , engineering, (corner three), other....(to corner 4)

Then all can see the distributions...and I can ask specific questions to learn more about each group..e.g. "other" which studies are behind the category other...?) or I can give them 2 minutes for introducing themselves in the group or 5for doing an interview to one peer which they have to present later...

I adapt the questions to the content of the training...
e.g. who has experience as consultant / trainer / coach etc.

none/ less than five years. / between 5- 10 years...

Never more than 5- 6 question complexes, never more than 3 - 4 alternatives / categories...needs 20 - 45 min..serves as an energizer as well...

Helps a lot to get additional information on participants, makes them be active from the start and opens for a huge variety of issues, including expectations....

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Excellent reply Kuerzinger!

Never seen No 1 before and will definetely use it in future!

Hope you post more suggestions on here...sounds like you really know what you are doing.

Thanks again


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I've taken your idea and amended it slightly:
I have a suite of 5 half day management interventions I'm designing around people management issues - absence, capability, etc. I'll be asking candidates to complete an A6 card with the following information:
The reason for their course nomination
Complete these sentences: By the end of the session I need to... or By the end of the session I want to...

The cards can be shuffled, one delegate can introduce someone else and the cards are then stuck to a flipchart in the room. At the end of the session I will return the cards to the participants as we review the event, ask them to note any test scores on it and use it as the basis of their de-brief with their line manager.

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"one delegate can introduce someone else"

This seems to be quite common practice...not sure why as I would hate to be asked to speak for another delegate. (or them speak for me)
Not a criticism of anyone who does it but it is certainly worth questioning your motives behind it.

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it works as a quality check of the card. If another attendee can't understand the ideas/writing/content on the card at the event, there is no guarantee a manager will either.

In addition, I need to establish a trust relationship in the room as the areas I'll be using this on are people-sensitive (capability, discipline, sickness/absence) and the attendees will need to understand that information shared will help get the best from the event. As a result, sharing personal objectives begins to bridge the trust gap.

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