by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

We keep hearing from wellness managers who have discontinued classroom-style programming — because the wellness portal is supposed to solve all their problems, people are too busy, they’re bored with the technique, or participants don’t want to be lumped with others working on stress management, weight loss, or smoking cessation. But are these valid reasons to scrap a technique that’s been effective in the past, offers unique advantages (such as group support and camaraderie), and continues to be successful in other arenas? Maybe not.

Your approach to classroom education could just be tired and dated. With a shot in the arm, you can find plenty of eager participants who benefit from this group learning. Answer these questions to see if you’re doing all you can to create an appealing classroom program.

  • Have you done your homework? Know all you can about the audience. If you’ve used a targeted approach for promoting the class, you should have some basic information to build in exercises that connect with their needs. If you’re presenting to a defined work group, interview a cross-section of the audience beforehand to get a sense of interests and concerns about your topic.
  • What can you do to build anticipation/curiosity? In both your promotions and confirmations, you can heighten interest by promising a surprise or letting clients know they’ll learn a secret when they attend. 
  • Are you prepared for anything? If you’re using an outside presenter and they don’t show, you’ll need an equally impressive backup plan. Disappointed participants don’t return, and worse, they often spread their disappointment. 
  • Do you have a way to involve the audience? Do it early and often. Beyond questions and answers, or a show of hands, you can keep the energy level high in the classroom by involving participants in the subject. Game show formats, mini assignments, working in pairs, trivia contests . . . use whatever you can to create interaction and lead to memorable learning. 
  • Do you paint a picture? Statistics and formulas are dry and boring. Make your message come alive with stories of real people and personal anecdotes. Try to touch on emotions — sadness, happiness, love, anger, frustration — to make a connection.
  • Are you using interesting visuals? You may not need a laser show, but quality visuals and props that reinforce your message make for a more lively class. 
  • Do you have a plan to send them away happy? People remember first and last impressions most. Your closing should be uplifting and positive – a statement about the possibilities of living a healthy lifestyle, not the risks of unhealthy behavior.


# Charlie Estey 2015-05-28 10:13
Dean - great post and key best practices. Additionally, aligning with Safety Meetings (often times required by OSHA), new employee orientations, departmental meetings, etc. - positions the wellness seminar in front of large percentage of eligible population.
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# MJ Shaar 2015-05-27 13:43
Great post, and couldn't agree with you more, Dean! The human touch makes all the difference in the world when it comes to so many things in life, particularly wellness!
Technology certainly makes scaling easier, but I think it's best as an add-on, not as a substitute for more personal approaches.
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