It is essential to ask participants at the beginning of the first session of a training program to make their cell phones silent. Having a participant every now and then getting out of the training room to answer his or her cell phone disturbs the training and breaks the focus of the rest of the participants.
This can be done as part of laying down the ground rules or it can be done by itself if there are no other ground rules to set. If the trainer is using a PowerPoint presentation, he can make a slide with the image of a cell phone and a cross over it. An alternative is to wait until the first cell phone rings and then ask everyone to make their cell phones silent.
It is a good idea to tell participants that you, the trainer, are going to make your own cell phones silent also with them and do so in front of them after asking them to do so. Such a behavior for the trainer makes it feel totally OK for them and guards against offending anyone who had not made his or her cell phone silent before the training session started.
You should make it clear to participants that whenever they receive a phone call during the training session they should disregard it while calling back during one of the breaks.
Clearly asking participants to make their cell phones silent during the training session will help in having a smoother running and more focused and thus useful training session.
In what situations do you think it would be appropriate to allow a participant to answer his or her cell phone during the time the training session is running?