The dirty secret of corporate training!

According to cognitive science expert Art Kohn within a week people forget an average of 90% of the information that is presented to them. It is harder than ever to get buy in and engagement in training, people are time poor and there are many different ways to learn and develop new skills. Workshops are expensive even if internal facilitators lead them, so they need to be more than PowerPoint and talk and chalk.

What’s the alternative? High-impact, experiential training sessions that engage participants on every level.

Here are six ways experiential training trumps traditional training methods every time:

  1. It Produces Long-lasting Results – Recent brain scans of learners revealed that more parts of the brain are activated while they were engaged in experiential learning and more of the information stuck as a result. With this theory in mind, experiential training methods involve a “hands-on” approach to training. Participants remain actively engaged throughout, which makes them far more likely to internalise the training and recall it long after the training session ends.
  2. It’s Customisable – Experiential training works so well because it mimics the actual work environment, the way your colleagues interact with one another on a day-to-day basis, you can even take another step forward by using professional actors in demos, forum theatre, and business simulations
  3. It Won’t Put Participants to Sleep – This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s a classic pitfall of traditional training methods — they’re just too boring. Experiential training is dynamic challenging and fun!
  4. It Provides a Safe Space to Fail – Yes, experiential training simulates a real work environment — but it’s just that, a simulation. This simulated, safe environment provides participants with the all-too-rare opportunity to take risks, even if they result in failure since failure in this instance isn’t tied to real-world consequences. Having your colleagues try and fail during an experiential training session can provide them with valuable insights without mangling the company’s bottom line.
  5. It Helps Form Healthy Work Habits -You can learn the key points of good communication, for example, from a PowerPoint presentation — but traditional training methods won’t help you make communicating thoughtfully a practiced habit. Habits only form when people are motivated to make them stick, and experiential learning programs can build in that motivation. For example, people are often motivated to perform certain tasks only if they can get immediate feedback. During an experiential training session, you’re able to provide immediate feedback, which motivates participants to practice the new habit.
  6. It Strengthens the Team Bond – In experiential training, the strengthening of team bonds is often an unintended yet welcomed side effect. Experiential training involves participants not just “learning together, but “doing” together, and hours of interaction in a safe, supportive, and fun environment can do wonders to boost team morale and bring team members closer together.

If you want to add more experiential learning to your workshops watch out for our favourite exercises, this month its: –

One-minute story
This is a short activity that you can use as an energizer or an introduction to listening skills. I have used it in many different courses, sales, negotiation, management, coaching and customer service. It’s fun and challenging and makes a strong point. You don’t tell them why your doing it until after the exercise so you pull the learning from them.

Learning out -comes

  • Participants will understand that listening is an active process
  • They will know their own barriers to listening
  • They will know how to engage the ears, brain, eyes and heart in the listening process

Set up

  • Split delegates into pairs and tell them they do not need note pads and pens
  • Ask them to think of a subject they can talk about for one minute but not to tell their partners for now.
  • Label them A and B say that A’s are going to talk for one minute freely on their chosen subject, B;s will listen passively, in other words they cannot ask questions, they cannot join in at all, all they can do is nod and smile.
  • Run the first minute, at the end of the minutes say stop
  • Reverse the exercise and run exactly the same B’s talking and A’s listening passively.
  • The next stage is to tell them that now B’s have to retell A’s story and the have to do this in the first person. So if their partner said they jumped out of an airplane naked they would have to say “I jumped out of the airplane naked” Once again A’s have to listen passively they are not allowed to help correct join in etc. and if possible try not to laugh. THE IMPORTANT BIT, IF THEY DRY UP AND RUN OUR OF THINGS TO SAY THEY MUST STAY QUIET AND NOT SPEAK TO THEIR PARTNER AND LISTEN FOR THE END OF THE MINUTE YOU CAN SAY WE ARE GOING TO DISCUSS IT ALL AT THE END. You should have some time where not one is saying anything.
  • Reverse the exercise and run exactly the same with A’s repeating B’s story.

Discussion and Review
Ask the whole group to give you feedback on the exercise, draw out of them the following and record key points on a flip chart.

  • How did they feel not being able to join the conversation and encourage their partner while they were talking
  • What was it like to talk to someone who didn’t contribute during the minute
  • What if anything interfered with their listening (you want comments like, “I associated with what they were saying and wanted to tell them that and that lost me a few seconds of listening” “I didn’t understand something and wanted to clarify” “I kept thinking about how I was going to repeat back their story” “I just switched of” “I got distracted by someone else’s story” etc.
  • You are encouraging them to think about the key barriers to listening i.e. put these up on the flip chart and ask them to be aware of these when they are communicating with others:
    1. Flare up (Where they hold on to info and are not in the moment)
    2. Assumptions and associations
    3. Distractions
    4. Wandering mind
    5. Mental rehearsal