Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Real-life stories to capture the imagination

I recently watched a great channel four documentary on the Hudson River plane crash (watch it on-line at in the next 25 days...) This story is emotional, has a happy ending and many of your audience will be familiar with it from the news. Being current it can really help bring your presentation or workshop bang up to date.

Here are some interesting themes that you could highlight:
* the importance of training for 'what-if' scenarios
* the importance of being creative and finding alternative solutions fast
* the prevalence of video and cameras in the modern environment so that live videos exist (see YouTube)
* how the public are trumping journalists in photos/ videos of events
* design of planes for double engine failure at 3000 feet
* the effect of a near death experience on the passengers
* the response from people watching/ phoning 911/ ferries who went to rescue the passengers

With some video clips or photographs, some quotes from the programme or other sources such as newspapers and a clear set of learning objectives, modern news can be used as an interesting and vibrant addition to your presentation or workshop.

So keep your eyes and ears open for interesting news stories that you can use to stimulate discussion, especially if you can find a unique or interesting angle to it!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Dare you go Handout-free?

I have been pondering the issue of handouts of late. Handouts are something that many people ask about - what do you handout, and when do you hand it out (at the start, or at the end?)

I worry about the folders of training courses that just gather dust on shelves, never to be opened again. It seems almost criminal to be printing full colour pages that use the world's valuable resources if they are not going to be used.

Have we created an expectation that handouts MUST be provided?
Have we taught our learners to want and expect handouts - so they have something to doodle on or flick ahead to see what is coming?

What if we dispensed with handouts all together?
What if we relied up powerful presentation from the person at the front?
What if we spent much more time helping people understand the story or flow to the information - going back to our aural tradition?

I am on a mission to wean us all (trainers and attendees alike) off handouts, wherever possible. Let us save the trees for something more important that looking good on shelves before being finally recycled years later.

Save yourself hours of preparation too.
So who is with me - are you ready to go handout-free?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Impact and Passion, but the graphs.....!! oh dear

I love the bit where he contrasts spending on malaria and baldness.... but some of his graphs, even at huge scale are clumsy, gaudi and could be much much better.

Watch. Then reflect on what you would like to emulate and what you would like to avoid in your own presentations

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Humour in Creating Groups

One way to lighten the mood, open people's minds and de-stress people during presentations and workshops is by using humour.

There are very gentle, subtle ways of encouraging a playful or light-hearted attitude during your workshop that don't rely on telling jokes or things outside your natural personality.

It is an essential element of learning that everyone gets a chance to apply new knowledge or practise new skills. As they say "you don't learn to ride a bike by reading a manual."

When using interactive exercises, you will need to create pairs, or small groups for these interactive elements, and in doing that you easily add humour. Here are some suggestions for creating groups:

1) Using sweets - especially retro ones that cause a stir and get people talking. Have a bag with different kinds of sweets (say four of each kind if you want groups of four) and hand them around as a lucky dip. Things like refreshers, lover hearts, gob stoppers for example. If you do this at the beginning when people arrive, you can then ask them to remember the sweet they have already eaten!

2) Using badges - by badges of 70s, 80s, or even 90s bands (ebay is the perfect place to find them) and do a lucky dip again, or lay them out for people to choose. Choose the decade depending on your audience - some will remember swooning over David Cassidy or the Bay City Rollers and some would just go "who?"

If you have created pairs and want to determine who goes first, instead of just asking the group to decide, why not use the following statements to determine who goes first:

* the person with the most vowels in their full name
* the person with the longest fingernail (any finger on any hand)
* the person who has the most nieces and nephews (aunts and uncles etc)
* the person with the biggest watch
* the person with the most unusual thing in their pocket or purse

Think of some unusual methods to form groups and pick who goes first and you will add an element of surprise into your workshops, that automatically raise them above the run-of-the-mill expectations.

Good luck and please share your own ideas for forming groups here on the light the spark facebook page....