I’m sure at some point you have found yourself ensnared in an unending group training session, where yawns echo and PowerPoint slides induce a state of lethargy.
In 2024 we need to say farewell to "death by PowerPoint" and instead evolve into facilitators of captivating learning adventures, who develop people for long-term success.
Here are five tried and tested strategies, each designed to obliterate the boredom barrier and usher in a new wave of group innovation and problem-solving:
1. Break the Ice: Lose the formalities
Ease into the learning space by swiftly breaking down formalities. Tools like Slido become facilitators of engaging discussions, employing fun and topical questions to create an immediate sense of community.
As a dad who loves a good dad joke, I've found that humour can be a wonderful equalizer, effortlessly transforming a group of strangers into a community of enthusiastic learners. Of course, it's important to gauge the atmosphere and be aware when jokes might not land well, but in general, infusing some lightness and humour into the mix can set the tone for a positive start.
2. Ditch the nostalgia: Keep it real
Rather than merely prompting individuals to reflect on past experiences, I think the key is to elevate the learning process by bringing experiential learning to life. The challenges of the professional realm, often rife with complexities, demand a deep understanding of oneself and others for enduring success.
I turn to the immersive world of escape rooms for precisely this reason. Escape rooms offer more than just a setting; they provide an environment where teams actively engage with and navigate challenges in real time. The pressure-cooker atmosphere within these confines not only fosters authentic teamwork but also lays bare the intricacies of personality dynamics.
I use tools like Insights Discovery to allow teams to observe the diverse colour preferences at play within the room, particularly during activities such as escape rooms. For example, the room might buzz with the more reflective, data-driven team members meticulously examining details (Cool Blue preference).
While others lead with a visionary approach, albeit sometimes with a touch of impatience (Fiery Red preference).
Take our recent escape room collaboration with a housing charity. Ahead of the activity, I had them complete Insights Discovery profiles, enabling me to ensure teams had a balanced mix of colour preferences where possible.
As they immersed themselves in the escape room challenge, I observed their interactions and later facilitated a reflection session. How did individuals collaborate successfully or encounter challenges? How could we optimize their teamwork and preferences to reach peak performance?
In the afternoon, we delved into a second escape room experience, and to their collective triumph, all the teams successfully escaped. This achievement instilled a profound sense of collaboration and pride within each team—a sentiment that transcends the escape room setting and translates seamlessly back into the workplace.
3. Create group narratives: Involve and immerse
As the famous saying goes “Tell me something and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. Engage participants by involving them in the creation of shared stories. Move beyond theoretical frameworks; it's the collective experiences that leave a lasting impact.
We saw this in action with one of our escape room workshops. One member of the team had a strong preference for order and process. Their room contained a series of safes and once they had removed the content of them, they would close them again to keep the space tidy.
These group-created narratives become enduring tales
It turned out though that other team members had yet to spot hidden items within the safes and so they had to spend precious time re-solving some of the puzzles. Months later the team were still joking about collectively checking whether it was “safe to close the safe”.
These group-created narratives become enduring tales, fostering a sense of shared experience and camaraderie long after the session concludes.
4. Play and learn: Inject fun into development
Learning shouldn’t be a chore. In fact, I believe we learn more when we are having fun. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."
In one memorable session, a fully customized board game was created for a Housing Association. The kick-off involved dozens of cohorts of repair contractors crafting their best examples of bad customer experiences using nothing but Play-Doh.
Initially met with folded arms and dismissive remarks about grandchildren playing with such materials, the power of competition swiftly took hold. Within just 20 minutes, they underwent a remarkable transformation, and unsurprisingly, their creations and subsequent learning proved to be extraordinary!
act as a facilitator rather than an authoritative figure
I heard that a similar strategy was employed for Insights’ Global Leadership Meeting last year. The team orchestrated a three-day immersive experience that unfolded from the leaders' arrival to their departure.
Onlookers bore witness to leaders navigating secret locations in Belfast, interacting with mystery guests like customers and stakeholders, artefacts linked to the strategy, and competing for purpose points.
I’m told that this event injected a dose of excitement throughout the organisation, ensuring a deeper understanding of the company's strategy.
5. Tap into the expertise in the room
It is up to you to guide individuals to learn more about themselves and others. In the dynamic realm of human interactions, there exists no exact answers or one-size-fits-all solutions. Therefore, why impose them?
By tapping into the collective expertise within the room, you can facilitate an interactive and collaborative learning experience where the journey of discovery is as valuable as the destination.
For this reason, act as a facilitator rather than an authoritative figure and adhere to a fundamental principle – keep the monologue brief. Make sure that no topic or person monopolizes speaking time for more than ten minutes. Beyond this, actively seek engagement, be it through polls, discussions, playful exercises and informal chats.
In 2024, say goodbye to lacklustre training sessions, and usher in a new era of interactive, engaging, and genuinely enjoyable learning experiences.
With these creative strategies, not only will group training sessions be invigorated, but an environment fostering creativity and collaboration will flourish. Let the training revolution unfold!