Next week I will be the lead facilitator for a national, four-day “Train-the-Trainer” event. While I have facilitated this before, I am deep in prep mode today and reflecting on strategies I have used in the past. Should I keep that strategy? Tweak that idea? What works best for learning?
One of my “keepers” is how I set up my presentation table. In many conference rooms, the table is set parallel to the audience, as in the diagram below.
When the front of the room is set up this way, it is easy for the presenter to get caught behind the table for a significant portion of the day. The table becomes a physical (and psychological) barrier between them and their audience.
I choose to orient my table so that it is perpendicular to the audience, as in the diagram below. I place my device on the very end, assorted materials toward the back of the table, and then stand next to the device when necessary. This allows me to easily enter the audience, moving around fluidly without any barrier between us.
What tips do you have for room set up? I'd love you to share!
More ideas can be found in my book Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Learning.
A recent survey showed that 67% of employees admit they plan to multi-task at their next virtual training session. And 100% admit to actually doing it!
Virtual or in-person training must engage participants in order for learning to occur and time be well-spent. At ATD ICE 2018, I presented a session on adding the caffeine to your training design and implementation. We want our participants to be wide awake and learning! While I had rave reviews, I had a few people ask me how to do it with dry, boring or technical content. Another participant asked me how to engage accountants and engineers. Differing subjects or audiences may require interactive strategies that take these challenges into account.
“Fill It In” is a simple strategy that can be used with any audience and any content. Depending on your slide design, it can be viewed as more serious and intellectual or more creative. Instead of showing the audience a completed flowchart or graph, let them engage their brains to make predictions! Here are three slides that I have used recently, depending on my objectives, content and audience. I leave the steps blank and ask everyone to chat in or share how they would fill them in. If there are correct answers, I will then reveal these to the group.
Remember, learning is not a spectator sport!
Here's a sneak preview at one of the simple and effective strategies I will be presenting at the ATD ICE 2020 in my session on Summarization Strategies. I hope you will join me to learn a dozen different ways to engage your participants in active summarization.
Try this first: Create as many words as you can related to the topic of training and talent development, using only the letters that are present. Don't use a letter twice in one word if it is only present on the screen once.
Virtual Variation: Follow all the same steps but have them share their words in the chat room.
Adding a touch of rigorous thinking and rich discussion yields deeper learning for our workshop participants. The Incorrect Answer Strategy is a simple way to do this, while also adding some movement to your course.
I find that the conversation can be very interesting (depending on the question!) and participants often end up talking with others they might not have been sitting next to. It also gives me some assessment information about my participants comprehension so that I can make adjustments to my instructional plan if necessary.
For a virtual variation, use breakout rooms, or ask participants to type A, B, C or D followed by their rationale to the common chat.
BTW, I will be at the Training Conference in Orlando, presenting my Caffeinated Training Design approach on Monday, February 24th at 10:00 am. If you are attending, please stop by! If you can't make it, check out my book for an overview and lots of strategies!
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.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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