As trainers, speakers, or facilitators, we all know that people will react more favourably to our presentation when they enjoy the learning experience and are not subjected to boring lectures. You can enhance their learning of knowledge, skills, and attitudes by using games and activities to supplement or reinforce that point.
The following are 10 Commandments, some “do’s and don’ts” that you’ll want to keep in mind when planning how and when to use games, activities and other involvement techniques.
- You Should Be Prepared – Before you try any activity, plan and practice the game several times. Try it out with friends or co-workers in a trial run. Make certain you have established a comfort zone for yourself before you use the game in a real situation. Then practice, practice, practice!
- You Should Be Brief – Remember, the games are only to add on to your points. Don’t let them become the main course! A one or two climate setting activity at the start of the meeting or presentation is fine, but don’t get carried away. For the typical longer workshop or seminar, you may want to use several games sprinkled throughout the time period.
- You Should Have a Purpose – Make certain you’ve identified a goal or objective for each activity. When the activity is over, spend a few minutes processing the game so everyone understands how that particular exercise aided the point you were making.
- You Should Involve The Audience – No one ever proved that learning is a spectator sport! Games help facilitate change and understanding. No one wants to be “lectured” at in a five-minutes, or a five-hour session. People want to get involved, and those presenters and trainers who don’t understand this will continue to be doomed to failure.
- You Should Have Fun – While there are exceptions to this, and there are clearly times when games or humour should not be used in a situation, for the most part, lighten up! Your audiences will see that you’re a “for-real” person and you’ll both be better for it. On the other hand, there are some cautions we’d like to make you aware of in planning your training programs. Here are some of the caveats for you to consider:
- You Should Not Overdo – Don’t get carried away because everyone seems to be having so much fun. As indicated earlier, be judicious in your selection and always be conscious that your audience is in attendance primarily to learn something.
- You Should Not Be Gimmicky – Using too many gimmicks wastes time. If you’re seen as overly entertaining with little substance or content, you’re on the wrong track. Some audiences, i.e., accountants, engineers, etc., seem to be especially critical, and rightly so, if all they’re doing is “playing games.” On the other hand, these very groups are often enthusiastic players if they can see the transfer of the activity to their everyday jobs or a real-world situation.
- You Should Not Be Boring – Get people involved quickly, even in the first few minutes of your training program or presentation. With the short attention span of all people, they are quick to take mental side trips and turn their attention away from you. Have fun and let your audience do the same. When people are involved in the presentation, time goes faster and they always seem to learn more.
- You Should Not Kill Time – If you’re using games only to fill some time or space, and the activity has no relevance to the topic, you’re in a danger zone. With time being such a precious commodity, make certain you respect the audience and ensure that the time they invest with you will bring a return on that investment. Don’t play games just for the sake of playing games.
- You Should Not Have Hardening of the Categories – Be creative. As you use a particular game, you may well discover a way to change it to also fit another situation. Be on the lookout for new ways to make that next presentation even better!
In summary, games and activities have a rightful place in most any type of training program and can materially make that session more enjoyable and interactive.