Six top tips for delivering mandatory training

Deborah Miller, from the Welsh charity Llamau, explains how to engage learners with compulsory training.

Member fact file: 

Llamau joined the Charity Learning Consortium in 2020 and uses the learning management system and eLearning that we provide.

One of the real challenges of designing and delivering training in topics like safeguarding or equality, diversity and inclusion, is that they’re usually compulsory for everyone in your organisation. This takes the element of choice away, which can have an impact on motivation and engagement. 


To put it another way, which book do you want to read more – the one you’ve picked out for yourself, or the one you’ve been told you have to read for a course? It’s usually going to be the first one…

So, here are some of the tips that work for me with these mandatory topics, to get learners saying: ‘Wow, that was much better than I was expecting, I actually enjoyed it!’ Some of these may seem obvious, and experienced trainers may have tried them all, but combined they can make a real difference.

1. Mix it up

If possible, have groups with varying levels of experience. This way those new to their role, organisation or sector can learn from their peers. Those who have been there longer will grow in confidence through sharing their experiences and knowledge. It also means that your learners are not just listening to one voice, so it adds a bit of variety.

2. Make it interactive

There’s going to be some information you have to deliver as fact, but a lot of mandatory topics are about building confidence, communication skills and practice. They’re topics the learners will almost certainly have some knowledge of already – whether they realise it or not – so some interesting and challenging group exercises can really get them thinking about what they know as well as other perspectives. People are also more likely to engage if they’re being asked to contribute rather than just listen, watch or read.

3. Learners are all different

Include a range of learning methods to suit everyone, whilst also taking into account individual learning needs. For example, videos can be very engaging, but include practical, hands-on exercises too. A group exercise, perhaps working through a case study, can be very stimulating if designed well. Whilst some learners prefer face-to-face discussions on a particular issue, others may prefer to use collaborative applications to exchange ideas, such as Jamboard or Mentimeter (and so many others). And you can always do both!

4. Keep it pertinent

Do anything you can to make training relevant to learners’ roles, the organisation or sector. Keep it topical by using local or well known figures and case studies. If people can connect a topic to what they do day-to-day, they’re more likely to pay attention, get involved and ask questions.

5. Find that spark

For most mandatory topics there’ll be something that pushes a button for each of your learners and will get them talking. It could be an aspect of inclusion that they feel particularly passionate about, a process relating to safeguarding that they find confusing, or an element of professional boundaries that they find frustrating. Find out what it is and provide a safe, empathetic and empowering environment to discuss it in.

6. Surprise your learners

Unfortunately, some of your learners will be feeling that they’ve seen and heard it all (and they might have). So find a new angle, a new activity, something unexpected that will get them seeing the topic in a new light. I find mind mapping a great way to re-energise and find new ideas. And if we’re interested and engaged, our learners are more likely to be too.

About by Deborah Miller

Deborah Miller is a Learning and Development Trainer at Llamau and is part of the L&D team that won the Charity Learning Award 2022 for being Technology Trailblazers. The charity supports young people, women and their children who are either homeless or facing homelessness at approximately 30 projects predominantly in South Wales.


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