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.”
True or False?
Multi-media is more effective at gaining attention than static print.
If you believe this to be true, you might just fall in love with Lumen5, a tool that turns blog posts into engaging videos. All you do is copy and paste your text or url, choose the sentences that you want to stand out, select some music and Bam! You have a free video.
Here is a sample that I created in about 5 minutes.
Thanks to Daniel Jones for sharing this and so many other wonderful apps and tools at his dynamic, ATD conference session.
"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.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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