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Quick Activities for very short presentations


I have been asked to speak on the benefits of keeping a journal for personal development at several libraries in my area.  My hope would be that interest would be piqued and possibilities open up for working in therapeutic settings such as Care homes, residential homes, prisons etc.

However, as these initial sessions will be very short (one hour only) and open to the public (I shall have no knowledge of attendees' backgrounds, etc.), I don't want to lecture for an hour, I'd like to build in some simple exercises to demonstrate the value of reflecting on and learning from life experiences. I don't think there will be a lot of space, so something pen and paper-based or that can be done sitting down would be ideal.

I've come up with a basic running order, but would be grateful if anyone has any ideas for making it all a bit more interactive, and hopefully fun.

All comments appreciated,


5 Responses

  1. Starter for 10

    Hi Nicola

    One that springs to mind is to "walk" people through Gibbs Reflective Cycle

    This could form the basis for any reflective journal.

    So..pen and paper or just thinking…just ask them to think on their own…no speaking…maybe collect some key words that apply to each part of the model…

    1) Ask everyone to think of a period or incident in their lives that was life changing

    2) How did it make them feel?



    Maybe then pick a well known or famous person who has been on a "journey" and walk them through the cycle?

    Link to a simple coaching model like GROW…

    Give a handout for them to go away and start their own journals…Reflection and Goal Setting…maybe get them all to do a "wheel of life"?

    You might need more material for an hour but that will get you started…


    Good luck



  2. I have an exercise

    Hi Nicola, if you would like to contact me I can send you an exercise whihc is similar to the one Steve has outlined. It asks people to map their life events and then reflect on the level of development they feel they got from each experience. 

    You can contact me on – [email protected]

    Cheers, Nick

  3. Bring it back to today

    Hi Nicola

    Using the previous suggestions, once you have got them thinking and reflecting on their learning from life-changing experiences, you could bring it right back to the present and ask them what they learned yesterday. It might help them realise that learning experiences do not have to be huge, but can occur in the minutae of life.


  4. an example that was used in a similar situation….


    A chap I worked with "did" this in a session; He picked out a person in the group and asked them to name something that they had done that was successful (not necessarily lifechangiing or enormously "write-home-about") …..the person concerned mentioned a particular dish they cooked that everyone liked.

    He asked them to describe briefly how they came to make this dish and how they made it.

    They did so

    He asked them what they felt/thought had made it a succesful choice of dish

    They reflected and told us about the effect they thought it would have on others, the technical difficulty of the dish in comparison to their skills, the ingredients they had available

    He asked them what they felt/thought had made the creation of the dish successful

    They reflected and told us about following the recipe, deviating from the instructions, being exact about the measurement and using their initiative where they didn’t think a particular spice would go down well with the diners.

    He asked them what they would do the same next time they were cooking a meal based on this experience in order to increase the likelihood of another success

    They reflected and told us

    He asked them what they would do differently next time, perhaps to develop their skill at choosing and cooking meals

    They reflected and told us

    He asked them if they had previously recorded and reflected* on their experience like this before

    They said no

    He asked them if they would record and reflect on their experiences like this in future

    They asked him if the Pope was Catholic.

    He then gave everyone a small card with the "model" printed on it as an aid memoir


    The benefit of his method was that it was everyday, not lifechanging, it was real and unscripted, it was a "real" person rather than a celebrity/role model. You can use a very similar approach for learning from a mistake or failure, obviously but in the public arena a success was less painfull to admit!


    This approach is summarised in my book People Management Secrets published by HarperCollins

    * this is the difference between "Intuitive Learning" and "Intentional Learning"….it is intentional learning that you are trying to harness when you are recommending keeping a journal for personal development.

    I hope this helps


  5. Thanks for all your help
    Really appreciate all your suggestions. Thanks so much will report how it went.


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