Distractions in training

Q: I conduct corporate training with anywhere from 15 to 50 people in a class. Lately Ive noticed more and more distraction among the trainees laptops and smartphones are ever more visible. My evaluations from attendees are fine, but Id like to keep people more engaged even though the content can be dry (compliance, etc.). What do you suggest?

A: You can be more compelling than the electronic competition focus on the structure and style of your training sessions to turn it around.

What do you want the experience to be for your trainees? Take some time to envision your ultimate goal, not just in terms of what they learn, but also as a more complete experience.

There are practical steps you can take:

Include active participation in your sessions. If people just need to be in their seats listening (or not), the temptation to multitask will be very strong. But if you build in group discussions and report outs, they will learn more and have fewer opportunities to send email.

If its a long session, acknowledge the need to be connected during the workday with enough breaks, so attendees can take care of a few things.

Amp up your delivery a bit, if needed. Your personal engagement with the attendees will make it less comfortable for them to be focused on their electronic device.

Dont overlook the benefits of setting ground rules at the beginning. Ask people to avoid multitasking and request their active engagement.

After you try these steps, assess the results, looking at evaluations, noticing the incidence of multi-tasking, and even getting your same observer to provide feedback again.

Liz Reyer, ?Minneapolis Star Tribune


Downloading library books

Q: I have been trying to download the Adobe e-book software so I can download library books. Could you please give me the Web address for this?

A: The Adobe Digital Editions e-reader software is widely used by public libraries for lending e-books to patrons in a way that protects the copyright material in the book. You can download the free software for PC or Macintosh from Adobes website, at

Steve Alexander, ?Minneapolis Star Tribune

Program is bothersome

I hate to knock a free program, especially one with a moniker like PeaZip. It compresses and decompresses just about every type of file on the planet. But let me count the ways it irked me, and I will guarantee it will irk you too, if you download and install it.

For one, it changed my browser from Firefox to Chrome. Not the worst thing in the world, since Chrome is a decent Web browser, but I installed Firefox for a reason. That done, it added the AVG toolbar to the Chrome browser. I thought I had opted out of that, but apparently it slipped past me. And then I started getting every manner of pop-up ads urging me to buy stuff I would never want. Annoying in the first degree.

That said, PeaZip is a gem of a compression utility. The interface is easy to figure out, and if youve ever used a compression program such as WinZip, youll appreciate how versatile this free one is. It allows you to convert dozens of types of files to suit your needs.

Is it worth the nettlesome nag screens? For what its worth, I liked it so much I dismissed the irksome parts of it as the price one pays for free software. It can be downloaded at in both 32- and 64-bit versions for Windows 7, 8 and earlier versions.

Noah Matthews,? McClatchy-Tribune News