Pro's And Con's Of Having Training Participants Introduce Themselves At The Start Of The Seminar By Robert Bacal
There's actually no one size fits all answer to this.
Clearly, it helps learners interact during the training session if they know a bit about each other. That's the main reason trainers use to explain why they have introductions at the start of training.
The HUGE Pro: Trainer Gets Critical Information
The real reason in favor of having those self-introductions is that the trainer can get important information about EACH person, so the interactions with each person can be more relevant and meaningful to that participant.
When I do intros early in the session, I ask for the basics: name, what the person does for a living, but I also may ask questions about:
What they would like to learn
What would make the day a waste of time
What their biggest headache (related to the seminar) might be
I use that information on the fly all through the seminar, and it makes all the difference.
The Con's Of Introductions
There are two problems with introductions early on in a session.
They eat up time if they are going to yield worthwhile information. In a group of twenty people, even if each person takes about 90 seconds for their introduction, that eats up half an hour. With training time at a premium this is a major problem.
For this reason, I no longer do these introductions in shorter seminars, and only do them if the seminar is at least a day long.
Slow, Boring Intros
If you look at the goals trainers need to accomplish during the first 20 minutes of a seminar, at the top is creating and generating attention.
Sadly, introductions tend to be slow and a little tedious, so what happens is it sets up participants to be passive and distracted. They just aren't very compelling attention wise. Each learner will speak for, let's say 90 seconds, and sit and listen to others for 30 minutes.
It doesn't build momentum.
Conclusion: Use Your Judgment
Introductions of some sort are fairly standard in training, but keep in mind the cost. My recommendation is that for groups of twelve or less, do the intros. If it's more than that, skip it, and focus on starting off in a fast paced compelling way.