A table change is a useful tool for trainers to help manage group dynamics. It can also be used as an energizer and to minimize disruptions. A table change can wake people up in the morning or late afternoon, and can build some much needed physical activity into the day. Most trainers routinely include table changes into their training.
Langevin's Train-the-Trainer Blog
Everyone loves a good brainteaser! They are very versatile, can be used strategically throughout your training, and should be part of every instructor’s instructional techniques toolbox.
Using a brainteaser at the beginning of your course gives participants a chance to get to know one another and work on something that is fun.
I’ve often heard trainers complain that their courses are dry and they want to make them more interesting and fun. Bring on the creative instructional techniques! They want their courses to be livelier, however, in the same breath, they share their reluctance to take risks and try something new and creative.
Icebreakers, brainteasers, and energizers do just what their names say: they help us break the ice, jump-start the brain and get the juices flowing. However, they also serve a much higher purpose in the learning environment. If you’ve been in any Langevin courses, you probably already know that one of our priorities in the classroom is connection. Being able to connect with each of the participants, and to provide a learning environment where learners connect with each other, is of paramount importance to us, and I’ve come to believe, many of you as well.
We’re always looking for icebreakers to get a workshop up and running. Here’s one that gets people interacting with each other, acknowledges participant experience, and provides the facilitator with a quick look at the background of the group.
In our 25 Creative Ways to Add Excitement to Your Training workshop, we always begin by posing the question, “Why add excitement to your training?” Common responses include “The material is dry and boring and we need to spice it up” and “The learners are disengaged and don’t participate.” We also discuss the risks of being creative in training and ‘time’ always ranks number one. Participants share that they are often overwhelmed with so much content to deliver in a short span of time and that there simply is not enough time for brainteasers, icebreakers and games. There is also the attitude amongst some that these activities are a waste of time and should be eliminated or perhaps not even considered.
The first few minutes of a training course can be challenging for any trainer—especially one who is new or one who is not a content expert. Here are some suggestions to help you get through those first few minutes successfully and get your training started on the right track.
So, how do you start a workshop? In our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop, we recommend an icebreaker, using puzzles, polling the group to find out their issues and stating the objective, benefits, and overview of the session. These are all very critical aspects that should be included in your introduction. But how do you get the learners’ attention at the beginning of a workshop?
In part one of this blog, I shared my perspective on classroom set-up based on group size. Now, I’ll turn my attention toward facilitating icebreakers.
Starting a course with an icebreaker will engage your participants immediately; however, the group size can have an impact on the success of the icebreaker you choose. I’d like to suggest three icebreakers that I prefer to use with specific group sizes. Keep in mind that these methods can be used with technical, interpersonal, or conceptual tasks.
One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to bake cookies while listening to Christmas music. One of the funniest songs I hear every year is the parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” So I thought I would have some fun and write my own version just for trainers, to celebrate both the joys and challenges of training. So gather up your boss and co-workers and sing along with me! Better yet, check out my YouTube video - eat your heart out William Hung!!!