At the end of a long day, spending time in the grocery store is one of my least favorite things. I hurry in to grab only the essentials, leaving all of the “extras” for another time. Sometimes I have my list on my phone, but often I have memorized the five things by making up an acronym or a road map of my trip though the store. I always keep my shopping cart light enough to be (legitimately) eligible for the 10 items or less lane.
The “What’s in Your Cart?” strategy capitalizes on this common experience.
Follow steps 1-3 above, and then ask everyone to share one item in the chat room. Consider prompting them to share their most important, most actionable, biggest aha or one that is highly thought provoking.
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When I coach new presenters, I encourage them to follow the adage “less is more.” The impulse to add one more thing is usually founded in a deep desire to pass along as much knowledge as possible; to help our learners improve as quickly and comprehensively as we can. But over stuffing a presentation leaves everyone with that Thanksgiving dinner feeling – bloated and a little bit nauseous.
Instead, try my “Double QR Strategy,” otherwise known as Quick Read QR Codes.
Find more ideas in my newest book Caffeinated Training Design.
No matter whether I am facilitating a small group discussion or presenting to a large group for an entire day, I always carry with me hundreds of sticky dots. Colored sticky dots are a versatile material that can be used in myriad ways. The “restickable” dots are even more versatile because participants can change their minds about where to place them. This is especially helpful when using them for a voting activity.
If participants have a paper handout, sticky dots can be used in many other ways. The visual and tactile nature of the dots makes them a simple way to increase engagement. For example, individuals can be encouraged to stick a dot next to:
It’s down to the last few minutes. The clock is ticking louder and louder. And as the learning coach, you have to make a critical call. Do you start talking even more quickly so that you can get in your last shot of content? Or do you change your strategy and spend a few minutes asking participants to summarize their learning?
Winning facilitators know that if learning is going to stick, summarization opportunities are critical. Here are four quick summarization activities that can be used with almost any content, in a virtual or in-person session.
Looking for more ideas? Check out my newest book, “Caffeinated Training Design: An Engagement-Centered Approach.”
As a facilitator of adult learning, I can use a variety of tools to assess participants’ changing knowledge and skills. But I am always excited to find an idea that involves the learner in reflecting on his or her own change. This simple strategy – Before and After Illustration – can be used with most content and only takes a few minutes.
1. Ask everyone to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper.
2. At the beginning of your session, direct learners to draw an image on the left side that represents the topic. This image can be a symbol, a stick figure – something simple. Emphasize that no artistic talent is needed.
3. Near the end of your session, ask learners to draw an image on the right side that represents the topic now that they have explored it with you.
4. Direct everyone to pair up or share with colleagues at their table to discuss the changes in their images, perceptions and knowledge base.
Follow steps 1-3. Then ask participants to take a photo of their paper and email it to you. Share your screen and open up your email for everyone to see the photos. (I use a dedicated Gmail account for this purpose so that no one sees any confidential email messages.)
Want more ideas to wake up your training? Attend one of my sessions at ATD ICE 2019 in Washington, D.C., check out my newest book here, or contact me to discuss bringing virtual training to your company.
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 (but related to your content.) Instead of “Share your name and where you’re from,” try one of these:
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!
Creative thinking comes naturally to some of us, but for others it takes practice and structure. The Answer Is… strategy is easy to integrate into any class to get your participants thinking “out of the box.” To boost brain safety, have participants answer your prompts anonymously.
1. Show The Answer Is... slide to your group and provide a few seconds of think time.
The Answer Is… A Square. What is the question?
2. Reveal each of these possible answers one at a time
4. Provide 30 seconds for everyone to generate a question and write it on a sticky note. Ask them to bring their sticky notes up to a board or wall space.
5. Read the questions aloud anonymously and choose several for further, in-depth discussion with the group.
Game shows, with their hype and competition, are a proven way to engage an audience. No need to travel to Hollywood or spend hours creating a complicated game. Instead, use The Famous Duos Game Show with almost any content objective, for an in-person or virtual session.
1. Create a Famous Duos Game Show Slide, or download mine here.
2. Search for seven copyright free images of famous, successful partnerships.My collection includes Batman and Robin, Bert and Ernie, Barack and Michelle and a carton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
3. Create a slide for each image.
4. Announce to the group that it is time to play the Famous Duos Game Show. Explain that you will present a slide of a famous duo or partnership and they are to shout out, as quickly as possible, who it is. (In virtual training, have them shout and chat in the answer.)
5. Show the slides and celebrate those who got at least 6 out of 7 correct.
6. Explain that the duos are famous because they had successful collaborative relationships and structures in place for team work. From this point, jump into discussion about how this connects to your topic. It might be a very concrete, direct connection about teamwork, or it could be more abstract about how two concepts (language and attitude, precision and safety, questioning and closing) connect.
For an interesting twist, show photos of less than successful partners, such as RoadRunner and Coyote, Boris and Natasha, Quaker and Snapple, or Britney Spears and Jason Alexander.
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 were randomly 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 these 7 alternatives. Changing it up throughout a longer session keeps it fresh and fun.
How do you adjust for a global audience?
Without thinking, answer the following question as quickly as you can. Ready?
What color is a yield sign in the United States?
My bet is that most of you answered "yellow." If so, you are in the majority. But the correct answer is red. Yield signs were originally yellow, but were changed to red in 1971. That is almost 50 years ago, and yet most of us still think of them as yellow.
I use this exercise with audiences when we are grappling with a change initiative. I usually ask everyone to jot down their answer on a piece of paper. This is best for introverts or for anyone with a fragile ego. Alternatively, you can ask everyone to pair up and answer the question out loud to their partner.
The exercise is quick and makes a strong point from which we can jump into discussing ways to speed up the process of adopting change. I love that it can be used to discuss any type of change, no matter what the industry.
Do you have a simple change exercise you'd like to share? Add it to the comments below or email it to me for inclusion in a future blog post. firstname.lastname@example.org
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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