Dan North pointed me in the direction of the book Training from the BACK of the Room, by Sharon Bowman back in November of 2012. I was lucky enough to participate in training and become certified on this topic in December of 2013. I leverage many aspects of this material not just in training but meetings, etc. However, the part that really gets highlighted on almost a daily basis is the six trumps that Sharon expressed based on the brain research of others to improve learning environments:
Different Trumps Same
You know that professional looking branded powerpoint template you have? Yep the one that says your company name over and over in the same spot. Guess what? Our brain is ignore what is the same and notice what is different. So if you want people to notice the company name…change the location, color, size. Do something different.
Images Trumps Words
There is a valuable reason other than kids can’t read to have an image for an apple for A versus writing A is for APPLE. I’m visually and artistically challenged. I didn’t really think this would apply to me but guess what…it does. Try it sometime and just draw your own picture of the essence of what is being said. You might surprise yourself on how much it helps you retain the learning.
Movement Trumps Sitting
Our brains work best when oxygen is in full supply. Movement increases oxygen. Stand up, stretch, etc. The Agile community thought there was just a focus on using Post-its but the sheer act of getting up to work at a board – increases our ability to learn. Don’t be afraid to figure out how to incorporate this more frequently. Get creative!
Writing Trumps Reading
There are studies being done about how much the loss of writing is impacting learning. Personally, I’ll take an abundant amount of notes and maybe look at it once or twice but feel like I have it. The act of writing helps commit the information to memory. Now write by drawing an image too and you are doubling your chances 🙂
Talking Trumps Listening
I know…this one sounds rather bad. However, have you ever thought you understood something only to try to teach it to someone else and realize you really don’t? Me too. Now personally I don’t have a hard time achieving this but I do need to make sure I create environments that give other people that chance too.
Shorter Trumps Longer
10-20 minutes is really the attention span before we have to do something. Yes, 10-20 min before people want to check their phone, look at the clock, move slightly in their chair. At first this was difficult for me to figure out how to incorporate and not take triple+ the time to finish what needed to be covered. What I realized was that the “do something” doesn’t mean stop and break but get creative to do something tied to and further the learning. For example, we might have a group table discussion, find a partner at another table to do something, etc.
So I challenge you to give these trumps consideration for your next meeting or training.
When you are planning your facilitation – are you taking into account how to have the most effective learning environment?