This series of articles is about how you implement new ideas into your training when you can’t start from scratch because making changes will take time and effort; this way you can test out simple changes to see how they work and when you’re ready to start something new you’ve already got great experience under your belt.
So why ditch the icebreakers and energisers? Surely people sometimes need to be more alert and you always have to break the ice, don’t you?
When you’re working with people who don’t know each other, whether it’s face to face learning or virtual, people need to feel comfortable with working together – it’s part of human nature and our social contract. So let it be that – natural.
Rather than ‘force’ people to reveal information they often wouldn’t want to tell their best friends, or participate in a ‘fun’ but unrelated activity let them use their innate skills of interaction and curiosity.
Think of yourself as a ‘host’ of a learning event with a responsibility to introduce people so they don’t stand around like wall flowers, but you don’t need to get them to introduce themselves to everyone at once (very scary for some). Start Treat it like a party; encourage a few people to chat to each other, introduce some more, let them break off naturally to find other people they feel more in tune with. Create an environment where people are standing rather than sitting down where they quickly become entrenched in their seats and find it harder to move on.
Design a natural activity related to the learning so there’s a focus for conversation. At a party it’s easy to share how you both know the host etc. Create a similar environment with a list of questions about the topic and have the answers around the room (see article #2 about posters).
We feel more comfortable when we have something in common with others so write a flipchart with questions to help people discover similarities eg ‘How did you get into health and safety?’ If they choose to talk about the weather or their journey that’s fine – they’re finding their own way of building relationships.
If you’ve got energisers built into your programme look at them and consider how you can people moving without having to do a separate energiser. Are they doing activities in groups sitting at tables? Then move the tables to another part of the room and ask them to stand at the tables to complete the activity. Or if they need to discuss in pairs go for a walk around the room/ block/ gardens. Ask someone in the room to come and write on the flipchart – it makes everyone else more alert too because a) it’s a change b) they may have to do it next.
To experience more of what we mean join us at How to be a Brain Friendly Trainer. We’ve got a holiday special on 18/19th August if you’re free.