6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

There are many ways to spark excitement, energize learners, and generate enthusiasm in your sessions. Take the time to search out and develop strategies and techniques that are innovative and require learners to think while having fun and enjoying their experience. So let’s take a look at 6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm!

Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

Here are six ways that you can help stimulate enthusiasm in your learning events.

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

1.  Be enthusiastic about your facilitation.

Through your own interest and excitement, you can help engage and stimulate learners. If learners perceive that you are just a “talking head” who is regurgitating memorized information or parroting what is on your slides, they will likely tune out early in the session and you will not regain their attention.

Keep your information and delivery format fresh by updating and adding to content and design on a regular basis. For example, if you deliver the same content regularly (e.g. new hire orientation), change the icebreaker or other activities that you use periodically. This will require you to stay alert and think about what you need to do, thereby keeping you alert and making your delivery seem new and more stimulating.

2.  Plan and deliver activities that add value.

Your goal is the overall accomplishment of learning objectives. Do not add activities or other content and training aids just because they are fun or you like them. Make sure that anything you do, say or use in your programs is relevant to session content, aids learning, and is tied directly to desired learning outcomes.

3.  Ensure that initiatives are well organized.

Take time to prepare and practice before learners arrive. One of the worst things that a facilitator can do is to stumble along, rely heavily on notes and training aids, and appear uncertain about what they should do or say next. Become proficient with the information and training aids that you will use and do not spend time learning while participants are present.

4.  Clearly and concisely deliver directions.

To ensure that participants get the maximum benefit from all activity in a session, take the time to explain what learners are to do. Since people are either visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners (or some combination of the three) prepare instructions in several formats to ensure everyone gets what you want them to do. For example, instead of just verbally sharing activity instructions, put them in writing on a handout, flip chart, or slide and discuss them as you show the training aids. Leave the instructions on display during the activity so that learners can refer back to them for clarification if needed.

5.  Communicate the purpose and Added Value And Results For Me (AVAR-FM) of the activity.

It is crucial that learners have the value of what they are doing explained so that they will understand potential benefits. Tell them exactly what benefits they will personally gain from the information you provide.

Making an assumption that the objective of an activity should be obvious could be a serious mistake. Remember that people learn and process information differently.

6.  Solicit questions, comments, or suggestions.

Before participants begin an activity, take the time to ask if everything is clear and to determine if all their questions related to the activity be answered before they begin.

Throughout your session, you also provide multiple opportunities for learners to provide feedback and suggestions on how your facilitation of content or activities might be enhanced to add value. By effectively planning your session content and activities and setting expectations for learners, you are more likely to tie into learner motivation and generate enthusiasm for your programs. Since brain-based learning research shows that by actively engaging learners, you increase the potential for more effective learning and memory enhancement; your sessions will likely be better received.

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

For additional ideas on how to effectively engage learners during training and educational events, get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning or Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Learn This 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 www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Use Flip Chart Icebreakers to Engage Your Adult Learners

Use Flip Chart Icebreakers to Engage Your Adult Learners

As learning and performance professional for over four decades, I have found that in most learning environments I have to give adult learners a reason for listening and participating in the program. To do this early in a program, I have to help tune their internal “radio station,” from which they get their life experiences, into station AVAR FM — Channel 1. AVARFM stands for Added Value And Results For Me — #1. In other words, I have to give them a reason to listen by showing what they will gain or how they will benefit from participating.

Use Flip Chart Icebreakers to Engage Your Adult Learners

One of the easiest ways to show value is to get participants involved as soon as possible in their learning. There are numerous ways to accomplish this. And, with each, you can have them flip chart their responses or ideas to share with the group. Here are two simple techniques you may have seen or wish to consider:

  1. Pair participants and have them interview each other. Give them a list of things to find out about each other and have them flip chart the responses using a “T” chart format. This type of simple activity allows participants an opportunity to network and learn about their peers through active involvement. It also ties into brain-based research by getting them actively engaged and tapping into past experiences as they generate their lists.
  2. Group people and have them develop a list of questions that they have heard or want to be answered related to the program topic on a flip chart? For example, in a program on interpersonal communication, they might ask, “Why do people sometimes read into the non-verbal cues of others?” Once each group is finished, review the questions and either answer them at that time or state that as you go through the program you will be discussing the topics raised (assuming you plan to do so). By using this activity, you can uncover the needs of your group while determining what is important to them while getting them involved in the program.

For additional ideas on creative ways to create, use, transport, and store flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators.

Learning Quote – John Seely Brown

Learning Quote - John Seely Brown

Learning Quote – John Seely Brown

Adult learning theory (andragogy) and brain-based learning research point to the potential for maximizing learning in training sessions. Therefore by creating an environment in which learners become active participants. Instead of being a facilitator who is a subject matter expert and attempts to be the “sage on the stage;” take a more participant-focused approach.  Rather than trying to dump all your knowledge on learners; interactively share what you know with them.

Learning Quote – John Seely Brown by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Creative Training Expert

By allowing participants to actively engage in the learning process, you provide the opportunity for them to relate current knowledge with new content. This allows them to potentially experience more of those important “ah-ha” moments when they get the point and see how to transfer their new knowledge back to the workplace.

Learn This 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. These companies include: 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. Lastly, to contact him visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in Training

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in Training

To effectively engage and energize your participants, you must build a variety of learner-centered activities into each of your sessions. Brain-based learning research adult learning theory (andragogy) suggests that participants learn and retain more when they are an active part of the learning process. Such involvement can be the result of individual and/or group activity. In whatever format, involvement can lead to more confident, independent, and self-managed learners.

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in Training by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Training Author

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in TrainingAs Carla Hannaford stresses in her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head, “To ‘pin down’ a thought, there must be movement. A person may sit quietly to think, but to remember a thought, an action must be used to anchor it.” Just as children learn through experimenting, so do adults, through experiential and accelerated learning strategies. To maximize the potential of such activities, provide a variety of opportunities for learners to mentally and physically process and practice information and skills.

One way to get learners involved is through the use of visual imagery exercises (visioning).  In such an activity, participants are asked to close their eyes and imagine or visualize themselves in an environment that you suggest and using the information or processes they have learned to successfully complete a task. For example, you might ask them to relax and imagine an environment in which they are using the steps to a decision-making process that you have taught them to solve workplace problems. Encourage participants to involve as many senses as possible and guide them through the imagery by asking questions like:

  •  What does the environment look like currently?
  • How does it feel to do (whatever the process entails)?
  • How does it look as you are performing (the activity)?
  • What positive feedback do others give you as a result of your actions?
  • What is the final outcome after you successfully performed the task?

An alternative way of conducting a visioning activity is to have participants envision a situation, then open their eyes and write down a description of their image or draw a picture of it. As participants are introduced to the activity, you can provide some light classical, Baroque, or instrumental music in the background. Some current musicians who have produced music include Dave Koz, Kenny G, Giovanni Marradi, Jai Peng Fang, and George Winston. Just be selective and find tunes that are more mellow and lower beat for your activities so that you do not distract learners.

Other individual activities to potentially stimulate learning include the use of:

The Role of Learner-Centered Activity in TrainingFor additional ideas on how to actively engage learners and stimulate your learning environment get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

Learner engagement is a basic tenet of adult learning that is supported by brain-based learning research. By encouraging participant involvement in a training or educational setting, you increase the potential that learning will occur and that they might actually use what they experience later.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

You can encourage maximum involvement of your training participants or learners by creatively grouping them and then asking for volunteers to take on the roles of scribes (note-takers) and group or team leaders during small group training activities or discussions. This strategy also provides an opportunity to recognize their initiative and reward volunteers with small incentive prizes (e.g. candy, toys, or other objects related to the program topic of the theme).

By providing extrinsic rewards and supporting positive behavior you can potentially encourage involvement by other learners in future group activities. However, like anything else, there is a potential downside in asking for volunteers. That is some people volunteer more than others because they are more extroverted or in order to receive prizes. The key is to integrate rewards appropriately and not make it into a competition to see who can get the most.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

To avoid a small number of participants from dominating and volunteering continuously, consider a fun, random system for selection. Just be conscious of the method you use for volunteer selection. Avoid using physical characteristics like body size, gender, hair or eye color, or other such factors since these could be perceived as discrimination or at least omission or favoritism by some participants as criteria for selection.

One goal of selecting volunteers is to engage as many different learners as possible. This helps everyone take ownership of the session content and disseminates rewards over a larger portion of the participant population.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

Think creatively and use a variety of techniques for selecting your volunteers rather than sticking with old standby formats like “count off from 1-5” or similar boring strategies. Some potential techniques for random designation are to assign participants based on the following. Be prepared to use several techniques in the event of ties.

  • Person whose birthday is closest to but not past the date of the session being held.
  • Person with the most (whatever) (e.g. color blue, jewelry, metal) on their body.
  • Person whose has been with their organization the longest/shortest period of time.
  • Person who has most/least siblings.
  • Person who traveled farthest/least distance to get to the session.
  • Person with the most/fewest number of pets.
  • Person with decorative metal on their shoes.
  • Person who arrived home earliest on their last day at work.
  • Person who participated in an athletic event over the past weekend.
  • Person with the most/least change in their pocket or purse.
  • Person who has had the most cups of coffee or tea, sodas, or glasses of juice/water since arriving at the session.
  • Person with the most/least letters in their first/last name.
  • Person born in the city/state/country in which the session is being conducted.
  • Person who has attended another professional development event (e.g. presentation, workshop, webinar, college class, or podcast) on-site or online within the past six weeks.
  • Placing props randomly at some participant locations prior to the start of the program (e.g. toy police officers badge, gavel, or another symbol of authority.
  • Placing a special colored item related to the program topic, that is different from those of other participants (e.g. themed shape eraser; small animal or cartoon character).
  • Placing colored dots or special stickers (e.g. colored smiley face stickers) randomly on nametags or name tents prior to a session start.
  • Rolling a foam die or color cube at each table.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

No matter what approach you take to getting people involved in the learning process, the key is to make it quick, fun, and related to your program topic. Engage your learners mentally and physically throughout your sessions and you will potentially be rewarded with higher levels of attention, learning, and satisfaction.

For additional creative ideas and brain-based learning strategies, get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage Learners, Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results, and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities

Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities

Training review activities are essential for learning to occur. By experiencing information multiple times through multiple senses, the brain is more likely to retain it and create memories. This is because engaging learners is a crucial component of the adult learning process and ties to brain-based learning research. If possible, this engagement must start as learners enter the classroom or before so that they become an active participant rather than a passive bystander. This is one of the basic elements of adult and brain-based learning.

Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Training Author

People must be involved in the learning process in order to gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience. Unlike children, who often have little intrinsic motivation to be in the classroom and little previous knowledge or experience from which they can extract meaning and assimilate new information, adults typically want to be present and learn. They often seek new knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply on the job or in their life.

Brain research on learning indicates that long-term memories are formed when multiple senses capture sensory data and the brain assimilates the new information or matches it with existing knowledge. To help accomplish this when you are training adults look for ways to tap into various sensory channels by designing and developing creative learning environments that contain elements such as, color, sound, images, motion, smells, novelty, movement, and physical activity. Also learn to tap into the multiple intelligences that Howard Gardner identified in his research.

Additionally, you can encourage the retention of key concepts and information through the use of repetition. For example, consider building in some form of review activity every 15-20 minutes to hold attention and reinforce what has been shared. By using these interim reviews rather than waiting until the end of a session, you enhance the possibility that your learners will walk away with more useful knowledge and skills.

Some easy interim review activities include the following: Creative Brain-Based Training Review Activities

Plastic Egg review.

Create strips of paper with different key ideas or concepts covered in the session up to that point on each one. Next, place one strip inside small plastic eggs of various colors (the type used in children’s Easter baskets). When you are ready to review, pass around a basket or box with these in it and have volunteers take one egg. Once all eggs are distributed, ask for volunteers to stand, open their egg, and read what is on their strip of paper.

Ask for anyone else in the room to define or explain the idea or concept. Reward the volunteer who answers correctly, and then repeat the process until all eggs have been opened. A variation of this is to use various colored balloons placed on the wall before the session and have them retrieved and popped by volunteers for the review.

This type of training review activity involves brain-based learning concepts of fun, novelty, repetition (review), color, sound (if using balloons) movement and learner engagement addressed in books like The Creative Training Idea Book.

How I’ll Use It.

When ready to review training session content, have learners turn to another participant and share one key concept learned thus far and how they plan to use it.

Creative Brain-based Training Review Activities

What If?

Depending on the session topic, use a What if? activity in which, at some point, you have each person take out a piece of paper and write “What If?” at the top of the page. Next have finished the statement with some key ideas or concepts learned in the session that they could immediately apply to their job or life.

Share the Knowledge.

In this review activity you have a volunteer team leader start by writing one key idea or concept learned up until that point in the session, then passing the paper to their left. Subsequent learners repeat the process until everyone has contributed something. Let them know before starting that it is okay to cheat and look at their notes if they cannot think of something to add. After everyone has written something have the leader lead a discussion on which item the group believes to me most significant and discuss why they believe this to be true. Allow 5 minutes for this process, then, have each team leader share the item their team selected with the rest of the groups. Reward team leaders with a small prize or piece of candy.

Summary:

As you just read, training does not have to be boring or tedious. Think of ways to make your learning events come alive and engage your learners while reinforcing ideas and concepts. Make sure that you build in time for training review activities to reinforce session content. This will help your learners retain what they experienced and facilitate the potential that they will ultimately use their new knowledge and skills once they leave the classroom.

If you liked what you read, consider getting a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People for hundreds of other creative training techniques, ideas, and activities.