Last week I attended a webinar. Let’s say that the topic was time management. After introducing herself, the presenter chose to use a poll question as an activator. I leaned in, ready to engage and answer the question. Here’s the question, varied just slightly to protect her identity.
Which of the following is the biggest time waster for you in the work place?
I stared at the question for a few moments and then began to work on something else on my desk. None of the answers applied to me! I work for myself (no colleagues), I control how many meetings I schedule, I am skilled at prioritizing and have up-to-date tech solutions. Instead of feeling connected to the content, I felt a bit left out and began to wonder if the webinar wasn’t going to be of value to me. I turned my attention to something else, and eventually walked away from my computer.
If you are going to use poll questions, be sure they are inclusive. A forced choice answer can be used if there is one correct answer, but in this case the correct answer for me would have been “other” or “none of the above.”
Better yet, replace poll questions with a variety of other engagement techniques. Want to know what those include?
Look back over the last few years of Tips on my website (here are a few), or contact me to explore some virtual training on best practices for virtual training!
Caffeinated Training Design: An Engagement-Centered Process , filled with ideas, can be on your desk in just a few days!
This quick summarization strategy provides learners with an opportunity to retrieve and review new learning – all with NO PREP on your part! I call it High Five Retrieval.
If you are using break out rooms, you can pair participants and ask them to work together to list ten items and then raise their hands. If not, ask learners to jot down five things they remember and email it to you. Then share your screen to show a few of the emails for review. (I use a dedicated email account so that I don't have to worry about private emails showing in my in-box.)
As an alternative, try this at the beginning of your session to activate prior knowledge about the topic and to get your learners talking with each other.
Looking for even more research-based strategies to improve learning? Check out my most recent book, Caffeinated Training Design: An Engagement-Centered Process or contact me to work with your organization.
Whew! If you are like me, you breathe a big sigh of relief at the end of your training sessions and check off some boxes:
Participants were engaged
Content was covered
Objectives were met
During the session, we have some control over the learning that is happening, but afterwards? Unless we are supervising or coaching the participants, how can we influence their memory of the new material?
Researchers Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain explain that retrieval practice, the process of actively trying to recall information from the recent past weeks, helps to cement memory and understanding. Their new book, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning, includes many concrete ideas for how to facilitate retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving and feedback.
Here’s what I’ve begun to do differently as a result of their recommendations.
Now, even though I may not have direct contact or connections with the participants after my session, I am increasing the likelihood that they will remember and apply the concepts I shared. Plus, clients feel great about getting something extra!
Concept smashing is a creative way to engage your learners in richer discussions, whether in-person or virtually. It reminds me of the ice cream stores that let you mix or smash together different ingredients to create a very indulgent treat!
1. Watch the video above for an explanation or read on below.
2. Create a slide or download mine here.
3. Add your topic or issue to the first puzzle piece. For example, if you are doing a sales session on questioning techniques, your first puzzle piece would say "questioning."
4. Generate two to four concepts that might "smash" or mix with the first. For example, if we smashed "surprise" with "questioning" it might lead to discussion about how to pause before rushing to respond. If we smashed "stickiness" with "questioning" we might consider ways to make our product or service more memorable. If we smashed "compassion" with "questioning" we could discuss how our tone of voice conveys compassion (or lack of.)
5. Animate your slides with interesting effects for greater POW!
Wouldn't it be wonderful if all your in-person and virtual trainings kept participants awake and engaged?
If you're looking for ideas and assistance, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Call or message me today to discuss a customized, live webinar series for you and your colleagues. Let’s cut the loss and increase the learning!
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!
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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