"Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until the good is better
And the better is best"
I had the privilege this month of learning from Steve Shallenberger, author of Becoming Your Best: 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. His conference session was dynamic and interactive - exactly what I need to keep me awake and learning. At one point in the session he asked everyone in the audience to memorize the four lines above, repeating each phrase several times, and then telling it to someone nearby. He also warned us that he would quiz us on it later in the session.
Three weeks later, I remember this rhyme! Researchers tell us that rhyming is a powerful tool for moving information into long-term memory. Rhymes are even more powerful when they have an appealing, short pattern or are set to music.
As a facilitator of adult learning, I am always searching for new ways to help my participants retain key concepts. Shallenberger reminded me that I can intentionally add simple rhymes to my training sessions. For example, in one of my classes, I teach some basic information about "SDI." I have now created a short rhyme that begins with "The 3 Whats and 3 Whys of SDI..."
Take a moment to think of a key concept that you need your learners to memorize. Play around with the necessary words. Go online and search "rhymes with..." to find a list of rhyming words. Get creative! It will be worth the effort!
Looking for other memory strategies? Check out this easy idea.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to share ideas with over 700 talent development professionals at the ATD International Expo in San Diego. My sessions on Caffeinated Virtual Learning explored 15 different strategies for keeping learners engaged, especially in virtual trainings or webinars..
Here’s one more of my favorites for high engagement, creative thinking and reviewing key content in innovative ways.
1. Show a slide with three different pairs of eyeglasses on it.
2. Ask your learners to choose one of the pairs of glasses by typing their choice into the chat box.
3. Reveal whom the glasses represent*. These might be:
4. Ask participants to chat in what they think their person’s perspective might be on the topic.
5. Comment on some of the ideas to expand the discussion.
Taking another person's perspective can provide deeper insights and more divergent thinking, leading to better outcomes for your company.
BTW, if you missed the conference and think your training department can use some caffeine, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. I'm glad to help!
Once again, Chip and Dan Heath are serving up tidbits of wisdom in their latest book, The Power of Moments. As in previous publications, the book is a quick read, filled with interesting stories and achievable next steps. But what I appreciated most about reading this book was the sparks it created in my own brain as I applied their suggestions to my work.
Heath and Heath have found that powerful moments are created from one or more of four elements:
A chunk of my work involves developing strong, two-person teams. The primary vehicle for this development is group-training sessions, sometimes with follow-up coaching. When I considered ideas for elevation and connection, I realized that I might be able to engineer some peaks for new, emerging partnerships. I purchased a portable photo printer that connects to my smart phone. At various moments throughout the training, I grab photos of the new partners and immediately print them with a team slogan plastered across the bottom. It is a small step, but Heath and Heath point out that “a bit of attention and energy can transform an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one.”
Join others and follow me for additional ideas about increasing the effectiveness of your training and presenting.
In the 1990s, Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo’s motto was
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
For trainers and presenters, these words of wisdom remind us of the importance of what our audience experiences as they enter the room.
Picture your last training event. What did participants see, hear and feel as they arrived? What tone was set before they ever met you? These first moments are powerful and can set you up for a more successful session.
My proactive “dandruff shampoo” list includes the following five prep steps:
What would you add to this list?
For more ideas on designing and implementing an effective adult learning environment, check out my book Caffeinated Learning.
When I was a kid, my mother used to try to get me out from under her feet by giving me a list of items to find outside. I would return an hour or so later with an odd collection of heart shaped rocks, twigs that looked like letters, and dead bugs. (It would take me quite awhile to gather the courage to pick up the dead bugs, and my mother was banking on that!)
Thanks to GooseChase for developing a much more exciting, technology-based version of a scavenger hunt!
Each GooseChase game has a list of missions that participants complete. You can either choose from their large bank of missions or create your own. When creating your own, you get to describe each one and assign a point value. Finally, you can create up to three teams in the free version, giving them whatever name you’d like and setting up a privacy passcode for each team.
Last week, I used GooseChase with a group of about 50 adults who were interested in improving their teaching and presenting skills. They were divided into 3 teams (Red, Blue, Green) and had a list of four missions to complete. For example, one mission was to find research on the connection between movement and learning, snap a photo of it and submit the photo. Another was to take video of a movement that might be incorporated into a training session for adults.
Participants were highly engaged, quickly moving through the missions as they tried to beat their colleagues on other teams. And, best of all, they were generating content for their own learning, rather than being spoon-fed by the “sage on the stage.”
A Tip -
When I use GooseChase again, I will ask participants to download the app in advance to save time and hassle with connectivity during the session.
It seems appropriate that on opening day of baseball season, I needed to use my Catcher's Mitt strategy. I was presenting to a group of about 85 excited, engaged learners. They were seated with colleagues and team members, so that they could easily participate in problem solving discussions. My problem was that when I needed to pull them back together, side conversations continued.
I tried many of the traditional methods to quiet them down - the long pause, proximity control - but the chatter continued. Chatter can be a distraction (ask any baseball player that has flubbed at bat), so it is helpful to have a variety of responses at your fingertips. I always carry with me printed images of a catcher's mitt. I print 6 per page on colored paper (it's hard to find paper the color of a mitt ) and cut them up in advance. At the morning break I distributed a few to each table.
When we returned from our break I explained
"I have heard some great discussion going on at your tables. You will have more time to talk as we go throughout the day, however, if something comes to you while I am speaking, I don't want you to lose it. So I have provided some catcher's mitts at each table. Grab one and jot down your thought - catch it - so you won't forget it."
The side conversations diminished significantly. If needed, I could have reminded the group to use their catcher's mitts to hold their thoughts until the next discussion opportunity.
Save yourself some time and work by printing my Catcher's Mitt master here.
For additional ideas on dealing with difficult participants, check out my book Caffeinated Learning, available in paper and e-book versions.
Do you want a highly engaged audience? Of course you do! But be warned – overusing animation in your slide deck is not the way to accomplish your goal. Flying words and bursting stars may seem interesting, but are more of a hindrance than a help. With slide decks, a little can go a long way. So here are my personal guidelines for when to animate and when not to animate.
An extremely athletic friend of mine recently convinced me to do a “girls’ weekend” with her by attending an intensive swim clinic. While I can swim, no one would ever accuse me of being super proficient at the sport, so I thought “Why not?”
Our instructor was four time Olympian, gold medal winner Sheila Taormina. Clearly, Taormina knows her stuff when it comes to swimming. She has developed the STGRID, a metal contraption placed in the pool, so that when a person swims past it an underwater camera can capture the movements against the grid. This allows swim mechanics instruction to be articulated in measureable, definable, specific terms rather than vague, abstract verbal terms.
Using this grid, Taormina has filmed elite swimmers from all over the world. She has catalogued the common movements, collecting evidence for what contributes to the most successful careers.
Do you have a strong grid against which to measure the skills you are teaching? Have you assessed, in an objective, reliable way, what your most elite workers do to be successful? By developing and implementing a system like Taormina’s grid, you will be able to more clearly articulate to your learners what they need to do to improve.
I significantly increased my distance per stroke after seeing my performance against the grid. Now, if I could just stop eating brownies…
I found my new love on Valentine’s Day – Pexels! Pexels photos are super great quality and completely free (!) licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are nicely tagged, searchable and also easy to find through their discover pages. They currently have over 40,000 photos to choose from and add approximately 3,000 more each month.
This will definitely be my new go-to site. Thanks to all of the generous photographers who are willing to share their fabulous pictures!
Two distinctly different events this week have me considering the importance of poise over panic when presenting.
On Tuesday, I had the amazing opportunity to watch the SpaceX rocket lift off from Kennedy Space Center. The pleasure of watching the rocket soar and the boosters return to land was amplified knowing that Elon Musk believes that we need more fun in life. To emphasize this, Musk chose to use a red Tesla sports car as his payload, with an empty astronaut suit in the driver's seat and a sign that read "Don't Panic."
Then last night I watched the Olympic Biathlon competition, in which athletes have to cross-country ski, then shoot a rifle while their hearts are beating at approximately 190 beats per minute! Winners are adept at calming themselves enough to hit the targets with amazing precision.
Presenters need this poise when things go wrong - which they inevitably do. Technology failure? Yup, I've had it. Stranger walking on stage mid-speech? Yup, been there. Fire? Yup, had that, too. In every case I managed to avoid panic because I knew I had two solutions.
1. I am comfortable telling my participants to turn and talk with their colleagues or to take a ten minute break. This allows me to handle the problem without the anxiety of having everyone watching and waiting.
2. I always have predetermined material or activities I can cut if I am running short on time. This pro-active step provides me with a sense of patience, so that I am not rushing to try to solve a problem (and potentially making it worse.)
Do you have tips for staying poised instead of becoming panicked? If so, please share so that we can all learn from each other.
For additional tips, check out my book "Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Training."
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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