SpeakerNet News Compilations

Creative Training Strategies

Jeff Blackman

Page Sponsors
How to sponsor this page

Recently, I asked the readers of SpeakerNet News:

A client has requested that I work with their trainers on creative training strategies, i.e., storytelling, humor, interaction, etc. I'd appreciate your one or two top training tips or source recommendations to share with them.

-- Linda Brakeall

Creative icebreaker to discover the personalities of those in attendance:

Question to all:
If you could pass a bill in Congress, with no personal or professional repercussions, what would it be and why?

-- Linda Gabbert Keith

Don't know if this applies to your client but it is 'creative' in the context of the Tax Return Cashflow Analysis and Financial Statement Analysis classes I teach. I am known for a lot of things, but one is that the students get to play with legos. I have piles of legos between participants. I usually pass them out during registration when lots of people have arrived but I have not started the program. I mention the unusual pieces in each pile...a green hat, the only propeller in the room, the only wheels. We get to chat about something completely unrelated to the serious number-crunching we'll be doing in the class.

After the session starts, somewhere during the early remarks, I mention that the legos are entirely optional but that, if they want to take the lego challenge, they will make something with every piece in their pile. I give them a few more guidelines.

They cannot raid someone else's pile but can negotiate for exchange of pieces. If by after lunch someone has not started to make something with their pile, anything in it is fair game. They can work on their own, or their table of two or three can collaborate.

I do not give them time to work on it, but they do things during breaks and if back from lunch early. As creations are complete, I'll show them off during subsequent breaks and at the end of the day.

This is a way to let them know that even though we are doing serious training on a difficult subject we'll have some fun. Most of them enjoy the play but there is no stigma attached to people who don't want to. Since my topic is very left-brained, the tactile stimulation and colors of the legos helps to activate the right-brain. I think both sides help them learn better.

On occasion with a repeat group I have been short of luggage space or knew the room setup would not accommodate the legos. Every time I have showed up without them I hear about it!

-- Shirley Trout

I often start my training sessions by walking confidently to the front of the room, hesitating, opening up my arms and asking, "Okay, what questions do you have?" This is most effective when I've not said a single thing yet! I deliver the question with this paradoxical appearance of being confident, yet apparently having no agenda!

It catches participants off-guard, yet challenges them to do exactly what I'm going to ask of them throughout our time together: THINK, be curious (take responsibility for their learning), and be involved.

I happened on the technique by accident (a mere whim the first time), but it was so successful, I've become very deliberate about it and it never has failed (when it's delivered correctly). The only times it's been less than terrific has been when I've already gotten into the goals and objectives before I ask the question.

The technique also allows me to "plant" an experience that serves as a reference point throughout our time together.

-- Susan Friedmann

Highly recommend the following books:

-- Lynn Durham

Your local university is also a place to go for their experiential education department.

-- Kare Anderson

Recent issue of Fast Company covers my favorite "creativity" guru, Michael Ray, teaches at Stanford, article includes reference to some of his exercises.

-- Priscilla Richardson

Games Trainers Play by Ed Scannell

-- Rebecca Morgan

I have some various tips posted in the Articles section of my web site, http://www.RebeccaMorgan.com. Go to the Training section of the articles.

Also, my tape, "Using Gimmicks, Games & Gizmos To Enhance Learning" is an hour of such techniques.

-- Joanna Slan

You may wish to check out my book, Using Stories and Humor. Also, I highly recommend Sharon Bowman's works, such as How to Give It So They Get It.

-- John Murphy

One of the great sources you are looking for is The Executive Speechwriter Newsletter, Emerson Falls Business Park, St. Johnsbury, VT. 05819.

Just call 1-802-748-4472 (VT) and request a free sample copy.

-- Tom T.

I always like to use a "theme" for a particular event. You could use flags, banners, candy, signs, music, etc.

-- John Sleigh

Have a look at my site, http://www.johnsleigh.com.au and follow the links to energizers or tricks trainers trade.

-- Leslie Charles

The Instant Trainer by Leslie Charles and Chris Clarke Epstein has many strategies for interaction, creative approaches to training etc.

-- Allen Klein

Sheila Feigelson's book Energize Your Meetings with Laughter.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions