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
Walk into a coffee shop on any morning and you can hear baristas shouting out “vanilla latte for Kayleigh,” caramel macchiato for Trey,’’ or “peppermint mocha for Marco!” Starbucks claims to have over 87,000 unique drinks that can be made with their assortment of add-ins. Visit a Starbucks in Japan and find a Coffee and White Tiramisu Frappuccino. Pop into a Starbucks in the United Kingdom and order a Crème Brulee Macchiato. Gone are the days when all that was available was hot coffee with cream or sugar. Customization and variety are the new normal.
When we want caffeinated training and learning, we need to consider the add-ins that allow us to customize the learning experience. I have curated nine add-ins that represent essential elements of learning, all supported by research and known to increase learner engagement.
Each add-in prompts me to choose one of several engagement strategies I can use in my session. The goal is to use all nine add-ins in every training session or presentation – especially those over thirty minutes in length. For very brief presentations it is still possible to address most of these essential elements by choosing strategiess that blend three or four together.
The add-ins are color-coded so that instructional designers can quickly evaluate their course map to determine missing elements. Here is an example for a beginner level session on designing and conducting training.
Want more information on my Caffeinated Training Design approach? Attend my session at ATD ICE 2019 in Washington, D.C. or check out my newest book here.
What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “pizza?” Perhaps you thought “pepperoni,” “fattening,” or “cheesy.” Your mind started retrieving memories, forming connections and processing emotions that you already have to the concept of a pizza. Research tells us that retrieval, connecting and emotions are all tremendously helpful to understanding and retaining new information.
Unfortunately, you probably are not training your learners on the perfect pizza. (I think that might be on my bucket list!) However, you can use The Adjective Game, no matter what topic you are addressing, and whether you are working in a virtual or in-person environment.
1. Choose a topic word for which you’d like to influence your learner’s perceptions. For example, I provide training on how to make virtual training or webinars more engaging. Usually people have a negative perception of the word “webinar,” and I want to change that perception.
2. Use the Game slides you see below or create your own. Tell your audience that it is time to play The Adjective Game. Explain that you will show a noun, and they are to turn to their neighbor (or type in the chat box) and share the first adjective that pops to mind.
3. Show your first game slide, similar to this one. Provide everyone about 15-30 seconds to talk or type in the chat box.
4. Show two or three more nouns before revealing your topic word on the final slide.
5. Discuss some of the adjectives that have been shared. For example, my audience might say “boring webinar,” “required webinar,” or “deadly webinar.”
6. Finally, present a slide with your preferred adjective, e.g., “engaging webinar,” and discuss how your session will help them to see the topic differently.
If your key topic word is a verb, simply change this to The Adverb Game.
Interested in improving the learner engagement in your virtual or in-person training? Contact me to discuss easy solutions!
One of my favorite moments in football is the “hurry-up offense.” It’s usually employed by the trailing team late in the fourth quarter. The quarterback quickly moves his offense from one play to the next, without a huddle, in an effort to score before time runs out. As Paul Julmiste says "The quarterback has to be the calmest and coolest guy on the field." No 30-second countdown for him, but instead, a game plan that keeps up the momentum for a win.
There are many reasons why I would not succeed as a quarterback, but one of them is my love for slow, methodical preparation. Typically, I like to arrive one hour prior to a presentation, so that I have plenty of time to organize my materials, check technology and start greeting audience members. But at tomorrow’s conference I have just 15 minutes from when a previous session ends until my official start time. No leisurely countdown clock for me. So here is how I am going to pull it off:
1. My materials will be pre-sorted onto plastic plates, 1 per table. Plastic plates are easy to take on an airplane (rather than a plastic box of supplies for each table,) and I use them for a brainstorming activity called Pass the Plate. They can hold markers, sticky notes, business cards, Doodle Sheets – everything I want each table to have.
2. Envelopes that need to be hung for an activity called Mad Dash will already have tape on the back, ready to be slapped onto the wall.
3. My handouts will be counted out in advance for each table, ready to be distributed.
3. Every program and website that I need to use will be open on my computer so that once I am connected to the projector I will only need to plug in my power cord.
4. Most importantly, I am going to connect with people by asking them to help me put out my materials. It can be a positive, bonding experience for participants – a “feel good” moment in a long conference day. I learned that I don’t need to do it all by myself – I can have a team of support if I simply ask.
Do you have a game plan for setting up quickly?
September 29th was National Coffee Day. While I love a good latte (and a good reason to celebrate) I know that learning facilitators can't rely on caffeine to keep their audiences awake. So, it seems only fitting that on the day after National Coffee Day I can announce that my newest book is now available!
After so many requests to write about strategies for designing virtual training, my new book includes ideas and slides that you can use to engage participants in your next virtual or in-person class.
Caffeinated Training Design: An Engagement-Centered Process will show you how to:
Design virtual or in-person sessions that keep learners awake and not multi-tasking.
Add engagement-centered methods that lead to satisfied and repeat customers.
Apply current research to increase learning, retention and on-the-job success.
Infuse creative learning activities to avoid the boredom of lecture.
Great for working with your team on design and training skills - this interactive book guides readers through ideas, reflective questions and application exercises. Interested in purchasing 50 or more copies? Contact me for a discount.
Enhanced energy and mood - that’s why professional conferences and meetings typically include ice-cold soft drinks in the afternoon, with cookies or candy on the tables. Many other foods contain “wake me up” ingredients – coffee ice cream, mints, chocolate chip cookies, candy bars, and energy chews, to name just a few.
Most of us will admit that we can appreciate a piece of chocolate or a cup of coffee to battle the occasional energy slump, especially in the afternoon. Charles M. Schultz, creator of the lovable but low-energy Charlie Brown cartoon character, once said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” So what’s the peril in providing our learners with some candy or chocolate?
The peril lies in the false hope it gives to presenters. Many trainers or presenters rely on the caffeine or sugar boost to keep learners awake during the afternoon sessions. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if the presenter fostered caffeinated learning instead? What if designers and facilitators were able to infuse activities into the session that engaged all learners? Imagine a room full of awake and participating adults, interacting with new content in meaningful ways.
So consider ditching the candy and infusing your afternoon sessions with engagement-centered teaching methods instead. Here are a few of my favorites.
Have you ever attended a conference where you felt numb from sitting too long? Began to nod off or daydream? As the blood begins to pool in your feet and legs, your ability to concentrate and process is diminished. Studies show that movement and exercise can disrupt this and cause an increase in the rate of learning (Ratey, 2008).
When we are moving, dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known for several super-charged properties. It increases attention, pleasure, motivation and perseverance. Imagine a room filled with people who are experiencing these benefits! If your goal is to increase learning and retention of information, experts agree - include multisensory activities in your course (ATD, 2017).
Worried about movement becoming chaotic? Even simple, tactile movements will yield better learner engagement. Ask audience members to snap their fingers or wave both of their arms in the air if they like an idea. As you become more comfortable, take a risk and try more active, kinesthetic strategies. Gallery walks or board brainstorming relays can be used to reinforce any new content. Avoid chaos by adding structure. Use a visual timer and announce time frames and provide clear directions on a slide. Modeling desired movements will decrease learner anxiety and ensure more accurate execution. If participants will be moving around the room, be sure that aisles are clear and ask participants to tuck items under tables.
Concerned that adults will think movement is a waste of time? Share the research so that everyone understands your purpose. Most participants will follow your lead and be glad for the chance to move.
Posted above my desk is the following saying: Learning is not a spectator sport.
As I design new training sessions, it reminds me to build in multiple opportunities for participants to share ideas, brainstorm and make meaning for themselves.
But as I begin to facilitate the session, the battle begins. It is the age-old battle between what is good for learners and the clock on the wall. Time ticks away and I am tempted to cut back on the amount of participant talk. Especially when I realize that “Windy” is in my group. Windy is the participant who always has a long-winded answer. A “quick share” turns into a few minutes, messing up my timing and causing others’ to lose focus. Temptation creeps in – should I just avoid participant sharing all together?
Don’t let temptation win! Instead, win the battle by providing a clear guideline. Try saying, “I’d love to hear three different ideas. Please get ready to share your idea in 20 words or less.” I recently added this phrase to my facilitation repertoire, along with “capture your group discussion in 3 to 5 words,” and “give me a two sentence summary.”
Of course, my training sessions always have other times when participants can engage in longer, richer discussions with colleagues. One of my favorite discussion structures can be found here.
How do you manage “Windy,” while still following best practices for teaching and learning?
Learning teams come in all sizes. While the large audiences have an exciting energy, small groups allow for stronger connections and more individualized attention. Large audiences make it easier for participants to opt out of being engaged, while small groups can be dominated by a strong personality or negative attitude. Both sizes have their pros and cons, and strategies that work best for adult facilitation.
In a previous post, I shared some considerations for working with large audiences. Today, I want to share an app with you that can be extremely helpful when working with a small team, especially one that might be struggling to work together effectively. Equity Maps, as described on their site, is an app that helps you chart and record the interaction of group members and graphically illustrate levels of participation. It also analyzes the types of contributions made by each person. The instant analytics and animated playback can be used to engage everyone in deep reflection on team communication dynamics.
Equity Maps has a $2.99 iPad version with plenty of features for up to 20 participants, as well as a premium version for $6.99. App developers are currently working on an Android version and hope to have it out in 2019. While they began with a focus on K-12 learners, the app has been used with adults in all fields.
Here's a video demonstrating Equity Maps' features as well as some screen captures.
Why save your celebrations for the end of your course? Mini-celebrations sprinkled throughout a learning experience spread the joy from start to finish. Stop thinking “party planning” and use the ideas below to begin thinking “cerebral celebrations.”
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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