Jessica Swart, a participant in one of my recent seminars, wrote the following on her end-of-the-day feedback form.
“Love how you have page numbers on the slides to go along with the book. Your attention to detail is HUGE!”
Attention to details, specifically those that make the learners’ experience go more smoothly, is critical for effective learning facilitation. One simple way to do this is to place the corresponding page number from your printed material in the top right hand corner of every slide. Near the beginning of the session, mention that you have done this so that participants can more easily stay with you throughout the material. Not only will you have their gratitude, you will also decrease wasted time while people are searching for the right page, and increase learning time.
A Low-Prep Strategy for Adding Higher-Level Discussion
Looking for a simple way to add some higher-level discussion to your class? Try this proven strategy.
1.Place a sign in each corner of your room, marking A, B, C, and D corners. 2.Pose a multiple-choice question related to your content. 3.Ask learners to go to a corner that represents THE WRONG ANSWER and explain to someone else why the choice is a wrong answer. 4.After a minute, ask for a volunteer from each of the wrong answer corners to explain their thinking.
Not only does this strategy raise the level of thinking and discussion, it also reduces the tendency of some learners to just follow the crowd to the ‘right answer corner.’ Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!
3 Ways Learning Facilitators Can Push through “The Groan”
Most audiences are comprised of extroverts and introverts, and lots of people who consider themselves a bit of both. In Susan Cain’s insightful book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (2012), the author describes the “rubber band theory” of personality, in which we can be elastic and stretch ourselves, but only so far. The introverts in your audience may need to stretch slowly to become comfortable with group work. The extroverts in your audience may need to have some structures that encourage them to listen and reflect. High-octane professional learning in groups requires participants to engage with one another. Yet, when we ask people to turn and talk or meet someone new, there is often a silent groan. Sometimes even an audible one! Many of us dread having to engage with strangers. “Can’t I just sit and get the information?” we silently lament. It is tempting for facilitators to avoid interactive experiences so that they don’t have to deal with The Groan. However, if we want rich, robust learning, we have to be prepared to push through the groan and get people interacting.
1. To kick-start this engagement, arrange for each person to introduce themselves to a neighbor right near the beginning of the session. The sooner you can decrease the discomfort of sitting among strangers, the quicker your learners will be ready to learn and share. I usually do this within the first five minutes of any session. 2. Make the initial discussion activity novel or fun. Instead of “Share your name and where you’re from,” try one of these:
What does a roll of toilet paper have to do with our topic?
What song title comes to mind when you think of this topic?
What color does this topic remind you of? Why?
3. Throughout the day, expand comfort zones by asking participants to talk with people who are not seated next to them. If I have a full day with a group, I usually have everyone talk with neighbors in the first morning block, stand and find someone at another table during the second morning block, and then I may purposefully reseat everyone for an activity in the afternoon. By slowly expanding the networking circle, I facilitate opportunities for new perspectives and fresh ideas – key to a successful learning experience!
Why I Don’t Use High 5s to Celebrate at Training Sessions 7 Better Ways to Celebrate Partners at Training Sessions
Partner and small group work is an integral part of my training sessions. Adult learners need to interact with content, engage in conversations and practice new skills with colleagues. To celebrate these small collaborations, I usually ask partners to exchange a “High 5.” (I’ve been in lots of sessions where this is the norm.)
Thanks to feedback from a participant, I have changed this practice. After a training session I received an email from a participant who is Muslim. She reminded me that touching between unmarried men and women is forbidden in the Muslim faith. If participants randomly were partnered with someone of the opposite gender, the direction to “Give your partner a High 5,” could lead to an uncomfortable situation. Because my audiences are usually diverse, with an increasing representation from countries around the world, I appreciated the feedback and chance to rethink my practice.
I still want participants to celebrate their work, so I have replaced High 5s with
Give your partner an Air High 5
Give your partner an Air First Bump
Raise your hand if you had a great partner
Look at your partner and say “Great work!”
Look at your partner and say “Thanks!”
When I say 3, you shout “Teamwork”…1, 2, 3
If your partner/teammate had a great idea, share with us.
Maximize Learning with the QR QR Strategy
I love learners who arrive early! Whatever their reason, I’m happy they arrived early instead of late. How can I honor their early arrival? By having optional learning activities ready for them. Here’s a new one I am trying, with different content depending on the learning targets for the class. I call it the QR Quick Read Strategy.
1.Find a brief article or post that enhances your content. It should be something that isn’t essential learning, as not everyone will have time to read it. 2.Create a QR code for the article and print it out along with directions (see photo for example.) 3.Place the QR QRs on tables for early arrivals to see as they settle in. 4.Leave the codes on the tables throughout the session so that learners can access them at breaks or the end of the day. You might choose to encourage people to scan the QR codes even if they don’t have time to read them right away, as they will be stored in their history.
1.Find a brief article or post that enhances your content. It should be something that isn’t essential learning, as not everyone will have time to read it. 2.Create a QR code for the article and embed it into your welcome slide, along with directions.