Creativity Quote – Maya Angelou

Creativity Quote – Maya Angelou

Adding brain-based learning strategies into training sessions by engaging your creativity in the design, development, and delivery of program content is a perfect way to engage adult learners.

Many trainers and adult educators shy away from building in activities, games, novelty, and other fun factors for fear that they might be seen as frivolous or a waste of time. The key is to ensure that everything that you use, do, or say in your session has a purpose and is focused on accomplishing stated learning objectives.

Creativity Quote – Maya Angelou by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Training Industry Blogger

I have been using accelerated or active learning strategies and sharing ideas with other trainers and adult educators in professional development programs for over four decades will success. Using such elements not only engages learners and makes the program content more fulfilling for them, but it also keeps me mentally alert and engaged as I design new processes and monitor their outcome in the classroom.

As Maya Angelou said:Creativity Quote - Maya Angelou

For ideas and strategies on ways to use creativity in you adult learning sessions through the application of brain-based and adult learning research get copies of The Creative Trainer: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning; The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators; Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners; and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Learn This Adult Learning Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog

Make Learning Fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

Make Learning fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

Make Learning Fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

If you make learning fun for adults that does not mean that your training sessions are ineffective. In fact, brain-based learning research indicates the usefulness of adding novelty. For example, you can use elements like learner engagement activities, color, music, sounds, and other active approaches. These can contribute to learning when you use them effectively. Just remember that anything that you say or use in a session should contribute to accomplishing your stated learning objective. Do not use an activity or training aid just because it is familiar to you or can provoke a laugh. Adult learners typically consider these a waste of time.

For years, adult learning environments were traditionally modeled after academic classrooms with rows of tables facing the front of the room. The teacher or professor was the center of attention. Because most trainers were exposed to such configurations, they often model their own adult learner classrooms in the same fashion. Thankfully, many trainers and adult educators have discovered creative training or accelerated learning techniques. These can help create environments where adult learners actually enjoy their training experience and learn more.

Following are easy to apply creative training ideas that can potentially enhance learning outcomes to help make learning fun. By adding a bit of novelty and competition, you can potentially motivate some learners.

Spin to win

Add excitement and build an atmosphere of fun through the use of large prize wheel spinners. Use these for review activities in which you list key concepts on the wheel spokes. Once a participant spins they have an opportunity to describe or explain the concept and win a small prize.  You can also use a spinner to list a variety of small prizes that participants who correctly answer questions or volunteer get to spin and win.

Cash in with play money

If you are doing cashier or financial related training, use realistic-looking play money to simulate actual currency and add a sense of reality. You can also use play money to reward participants who volunteer, correctly respond to your questions, and arrive in class or return from breaks on time. At the end of the session,  learners can use their money to buy small session-related items that you provide. These small mementos will often end up on a desk or bookshelf in an office or at home. When the participants see them, they are potentially reminded of the session and its content, thus reinforcing the learning.

These creative training ideas, along with many other ways to make learning fun and engage learners, are from Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

Creative Training Ideas that Stimulate Adult Learners

Creative Training Ideas that Stimulate Adult Learners

Creative Training Ideas that Stimulate Adult Learners

Brain researchers have made tremendous strides in discovering how the human brain functions and processes information. For example, they have discovered that various environmental elements can have an impact on learning and memory formation. Among others, factors such as nutrition, hydration, color, light, sound, motion, movement, and novelty can potentially aid learning in training sessions. The determinant is often the way and degree to which you introduce each element in brain-based learning environments. The important point to remember when considering how to apply what we know is that creative training ideas that stimulate adult learners can potentially make training more fun and productive if used properly.

In the past three decades, I have been writing about and applying creative training strategies in order to add pizzazz to my classroom environments. When sharing ideas on brain-based learning with other trainers I typically role model the techniques being used. I also engage them in activities where they can experience the processes first hand. This approach relates to the research on brain processes and provides knowledge and skills that learners can immediately apply in their own training sessions.

The following are two creative training ideas that stimulate adult learners that I cover in my books and creative trainer programs. Additional ones are posted throughout this blog and in the resources listed at the end of this article.

Balloon reviews.

Put one small strip of paper with a key term, concept or idea related to session content covered to the point of your review inside a variety of colored balloons. Blow up the balloons and tape them around the room before participants arrive. When ready to review, ask volunteers near each balloon to retrieve one, and on your instruction, pop them. Each person is to retrieve their paper strip and, in turn, read the content from their strip aloud. Have other volunteers define or explain what the terms or concepts mean and how they might apply it. Reward all volunteers with a small session-related prize or candy. This activity addresses the use of brain-based elements of sound, motion, movement, review, color, fun, novelty, and reward/recognition.

Manipulative toys.

Most adults enjoy an opportunity to reflect back on their childhood experiences. By placing small soft manipulative toys on each participant’s table before they arrive, I provide that opportunity. I use Koosh balls, foam squeeze toys, flexible rubber bendable, and other simple toys. In my opening remarks, I explain that some research identifies 5%-15% of learners as preferring a kinesthetic learning style preference. In other words, their brain processes information best when it (or they) are actively engaged. I also share that they are free to quietly “play” with their toys during the session, as long as they do not do anything that distracts others. I even encourage them to trade with others if they see a toy they’d prefer to have. Depending on the items provided, I either tell learners that they can keep the toys as a memento of the session or I collect them for future reuse. Using manipulative toys relates to brain-based learning concepts of learner engagement, addresses the needs of kinesthetic learners, adds a bit of fun and novelty to the session, and injects color into the environment.

To get additional creative training ideas that stimulate adult learners, search this blog site for brain-based learning, accelerated learning and creative training. You can also check out The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners, and Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results.


Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart

There are three primary adult learning styles or modalities: Visual learner, kinesthetic learner, and auditory learner. Flip charts typically aid the visual learners most, since they better gain, retain, recall, and use information when they see it.

Related to the visual learning style when working with adult learners, there are three good reasons for limiting the amount of information you put on each line and page of a flipchart:

  1. Aesthetically it looks better since you eliminate unnecessary detail and clutter.
  2. It aids the reader’s flow across the page since they do not have to read as many words and can now focus their attention on what you are saying.
  3. Most importantly, research shows that the human brain can effectively retain seven units or chunks of information (plus or minus two).

Like any rule, there are exceptions. For example, when you are writing a long list of items, numbers, or capturing ideas presented from participants, and it is obvious that you will run on to a subsequent page.

Three Reasons to Limit Information on a Flip Chart by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

In such instances, you might continue the column to the bottom of the page, tear off the sheet and have someone tape it high enough on the wall where you can add a second continuation page. You can then continue to the next page and post it below the first when finished.

For hundreds of creative training ideas and techniques for effectively creating, using, transporting, and storing flip charts in adult learning environments, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators. 

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness

If you are like me, you love to use flip charts in training and adult educational settings and in meetings. They are definitely low-tech and they are very versatile and useful. I recommend that every manager have one in his or her office to capture key ideas during meetings and to make concepts visual and more memorable. The same applies to any learning event. You can add color, graphics, and virtually all sorts of effective enhancements to your charts to make them “speak” to learners.

Three Tips for Improving Flip Chart Effectiveness to learn about…

Here are three tips that I’ve learned over the years to make flip charts stand out and help support my verbal messages.

Each word should be legible from the back of the room

To ensure that those at the far reaches of your room can read your text, be conscious of where you position your flip chart easel (often misspelled easle) and keep the layout simple and avoid “data dump.” Too much information makes reading difficult or impossible and can frustrate or anger participants who cannot read what you have written.

Remember that your goal in using a flipchart is to highlight keywords and concepts, not show your entire presentation outline on paper. Focus on enhancing the clarity of your message and reinforcing your presentation. This will aid participants with all adult learning styles, but in particular, those with a visual learning style preference.

I can recall one business presentation that I recently attended where I am convinced the speaker did everything she could to make the information unreadable. There were no title lines used; numbers were haphazardly spread around the page; she added more in the small margins as she spoke; and, she selected only a red marker, even though she had an entire box of assorted colors from which to choose.

I had to keep telling myself, “Bob, don’t be so critical just because you know the ‘rules’ of flip charting.” However, after the meeting, I asked someone else what they thought of the marathon meeting we’d just attended. Her reaction was, “I have a headache from all looking at all those numbers and trying to follow her meaning.”

No more than 6-8 lines per page

One of the more common mistakes I see presenters and facilitators make with flip charts when dealing with adult learners is to jam too much information on a page. This cluttered look is typically ineffective and frustrating for the reader.

As with overhead transparencies, I recommend limiting the number of lines per flip chart page.  A good rule of thumb is six to eight words per line; using two- to three-inch sized letters. Also,  having a maximum of six to eight lines of text per page (including your title line; using approximately four-inch letters).

Limit information on a page

Putting just one idea or concept on a page helps participants follow your presentation. When you complicate the page with too many or unrelated details, efficiency is often lost. This is especially true when showing columns of numbers. In such instances, limit yourself to about 25-35 individual numbers on the page.

If you have a lot of information, I suggest that you consider summarizing on your flipchart, then give a handout with the details. Simpler is better, with flip charts.

For hundreds of creative training ideas and techniques for effectively creating, using, transporting and storing flip charts in adult learning environments, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators. 

Energizer Activity for Train-the-Trainer Workshops

Energizer Activity for Train-the-Trainer Workshops

Energizer Activity for Train-the-Trainer Workshops

If you facilitate trainer development or train-the-trainer workshops, consider ways to have your learners provide their own ideas and experiences throughout the day. This strategy ties into the adult learning theory (andragogy) and brain-based learning research that indicates engagement as a method of increasing comprehension, motivation, and retention among participants.

As part of your effort to identify additional ideas, strategies, activities, or other techniques currently being used by participants in their own. To do this:

  • Form equal sized small groups.
  • Creatively select a group leader and scribe (note taker) for each group.
  • Provide a flip chart and assorted colored markers to each group so that they can capture their ideas.
  • Show a slide or post a flip chart page with the following questions on it and assign each group one of the three questions (depending on how many groups you have, there may be more than one group with the same question).
  • Have participants spend some time answering the following questions and flip charting their responses.

1.  When you attend training sessions, what strategies have you seen used to excite participants and get them involved?

2.  In what ways do you think that you can generate learner enthusiasm in future sessions that you facilitate?

3.  How might learners be actively engaged during a training session?

  • As a large group, discuss ways the pros/cons of each idea and implementation strategies.
  • Reward group leaders and scribes with candy or a small prize related to the program theme (e.g. plastic pointers or small noisemakers) that they can also use in their training sessions.

One Minute of Praise – Training Feedback Activity

One Minute of Praise - Training Feedback Activity

One Minute of Praise – Training Feedback Activity

PURPOSE: To provide each member in a day-long training session or meeting with positive feedback on their performance at the end of the program. It can also be used to encourage participation during training or meeting.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: At the end of this activity, participants will:

  • Feel good about their performance during the training session or meeting.
  • Be able to practice their feedback skills with their peers.

One Minute of Praise – Training Feedback Activity by The Creative Trainer 


  • Prior to participant arrival, create a flip chart page with each participant’s name at the top in large colorful letters.
  • Post the pages on the wall with painters or masking tape in the back of the room. To prevent bleed through onto the walls, make sure to use water-based flip chart markers and put an extra sheet of paper under each of the pages.
  • Point out that everyone has a sheet with their name at the top for use during breaks and at the end of the session. Explain that they are encouraged to provide feedback on something they liked about each person’s performance.  For example, “I appreciated the fact that you arrived on time and returned punctually from breaks,” or “I liked the way you didn’t back down when _____________ said . . .”
  • At the beginning of the session/meeting, stress that each person’s input is crucial during the day. Explain that to encourage participation in the session, each person will receive feedback on their pages throughout the day.
  • Throughout the day, before breaks and lunch, remind everyone to go to the easel and comment on each sheet.
  • At the end of the day, give sheets with comments to each person.

NOTE:      To ensure that everyone gets at least one positive “stroke,” the facilitator should also write comments on the pages throughout the day.


TIME REQUIRED: No extra time needed since comments are added during breaks and lunch.


  • Actively engages learners.
  • Engages visual and kinesthetic learning modalities.
  • It causes a review of the day’s events.

For more creative ideas, strategies, and activities get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning. For ways to energize learning events Check out Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners and for additional activities using flip charts, get The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators.

Energizer Training Activity – What Do I Wear?

Energizer Training Activity – What Do I Wear?

Making learning fun while accomplishing your stated learning objectives is a good way to stimulate learning and tie into brain-based learning research on how participants learn best.

Energizer Training Activity - What Do I Wear?

By actively engaging your adult learners, you are tapping into basic tenets of adult learning (andragogy) and encouraging learners to become active participants in the information exchange process.

This activity is an easy way to encourage learner participation providing a forum for future information exchange.

Energizer Training Activity – What Do I Wear? by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

Time:  30-45 Minutes (depending on group size)

Group Size:    24-30

Purpose:  To provide an opportunity for learners who work in the same organization to get to know one another a bit better. This activity also allows them to have a bit of fun while doing getting to know one another in sessions dealing with diversity, non-communication, team building, customer service, or other topics where relationships and understanding others is an important desired outcome.

Objectives:     Through the use of this activity, learners will be able to:

  • Get to know one another better on a more personal level.
  • Recognize that predispositions about others may create challenges in relationships.


  • At the beginning of a session, have participants form small, equal-sized groups (5-8 people) at round tables.
  • Explain that participants have been invited to a costume party.
  • They have two minutes to decide what costume they would wear.
  • Have everyone write their costume choice and nothing else on a strip of paper that you provide.
  • After everyone has written their answer, they should fold it and put it in the center of their table.
  • Instruct all participants to retrieve one strip of paper from the center of the table and one by one open it.
  • After all, participants have opened their paper and read what is written, have them introduce themselves one-by-one (e.g. who they are, where they are from, where they work, why they are attending the session, or whatever you prefer to have them disclose).
  • Following the introductions, have each person turn their paper over and write down the name of the person that they believe wrote the costume name on the other side.
  • Once everyone has done this, have them one at a timeshare who they believe the owner to be and why. 


  • Ask for a show of hands of how many people guessed correctly.
  • Ask those who guessed incorrectly, why they believe they might have done so.
  • Ask those who were correct what led them to believe the person they chose wrote their paper.
  • Hold a general discussion related to how we sometimes make assumptions about others and that can create challenges in relationships.

Materials Needed: Three-inch strips of paper.

For more ideas on engaging learners see Lucas, Robert W., Creative Learning: Activities and Games That REALLY Engage People, Jossey Bass/Pfeiffer, San Francisco, CA.

What is Creative Training?

What is Creative Training?

Creativity or creative thinking is not an innate ability, rather, it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon through the use of various systems, strategies, and tools. Trainers, facilitators, and educators are often looking for ways to make their learning events more creative. The good ones are applying brain-based learning research on how the brain best gains, retains, recalls, and uses information, ideas, and experiences with which it comes into contact.

What is Creative Thinking

Certainly, there are facets of the brain at work influencing the approach that you and your participants use as you strive to develop answers or solutions to issues in your sessions. However, creativity is not simply a right-brained function, as was once believed. It is a whole-brain process in which creative ideas are the result of many factors and mental processes. Creativity in training and the workplace also requires competency in the areas of divergent (generating a number of diverse ideas) and convergent thinking (selecting the most appropriate idea).

What is Creative Training? Learn the answer from The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

From a creativity standpoint, the average person exhibits a variety of innovative ideas and talents throughout any given day without sometimes labeling such behavior as creative. For example, whenever you are facilitating a training session in which someone offers a different perspective to a point you or someone else makes, they are creatively looking at an alternative. When participants brainstorm potential issues and solutions to problems, they are being creative. Likewise, when someone begins to daydream and starts doodling on a piece of paper, they are creating.

Interestingly, true creativity can come from a childlike approach to training. Children often are unaware that something cannot be done since they have not previously experienced it. The challenge for many children, who later recall early experiences as they age, is that teachers, parents, and other adults teach them not to be creative. This is done by requiring the children to “color within the lines,” “speak when spoken to,” “shut up and listen,” and in a variety of other ways.

Adults can regress to that childlike naiveté by simply experimenting and thinking freely. Unfortunately, too often creativity is limited by a person’s attitude or motivation level. For example, participants can actually inhibit their own potential creativity by making statements or thinking similar to the following:

  • I’m just not a creative person.
  • I never have any good ideas.
  • I don’t have time to be creative.
  • I don’t know where to get creative ideas.
  • I don’t know how people come up with all their creative ideas. 

Of all those statements, the one that is probably closest to the truth is that they do not know how to come up with creative ideas. Creativity is often more about strategy and technique than ability.

By researching ideas and strategies and applying some of the processes or strategies that many of the thought leaders in the area of creative thinking and creativity you will be able to add a spark to your own creativity and that of your participants. One excellent source I discovered years ago and have adapted for use in developing my own creative learning strategies and in writing a number of my books is Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko.