By Diane DiResta
Are you still stuck in lecture mode? Don’t get me wrong. We all have to convey information. But after seven minutes or so, the brain starts to drift. Lecturing, along with reading, are the most passive and least effective forms of learning. Make learning active! By involving your audience and getting them moving they will understand and retain the information better and longer.
If your audience is falling asleep, side-talking, or can’t remember what you just said it’s time to turbo-charge your training seminars.
Here are some alternatives to lecturing and tips to accelerate learning:
Understand how people learn
Learning styles may be either visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or cognitive. People may be global, needing the big picture, or linear, needing a logical, detailed approach. Make your learning active and varied and you will capture all the styles.
Create a skit or story to explain a concept. Try setting it in a fairy tale or in King Arthur’s Court and substitute your business concepts. Once upon a time there was a knight who wanted to get to King Arthur’s castle. So he asked the wizard of communication “What is the secret of leadership?”…. Then he asked the wizard of knowledge….etc. Watch how attention spans improve as they anticipate your ending.
Bring in toys such as play dough, slinky, crayons, cars, puzzles, casino chips, magic wands. People learn when they are having fun.
Let them teach you
Break into small groups. Assign each group a section of reading material. Have each team write down the major points on a flip chart and do a team presentation to the rest of the class. This exercise really increases energy!
Give an interactive multiple choice test. Provide four different colored index cards. Project a slide with a statement and four choices (a,b,c,d.) Ask learners to raise the pink card for a, blue for b, green for c, or yellow for d. You get to see instantaneously how the group thinks and they get to be physically involved.
Instead of telling them 10 characteristics of professional selling, create a crossword puzzle, a find the hidden word chart, or a version of jeopardy. The team that finishes first wins a prize.
Take flip charts and put them around the room. One chart is titled Parking Lot (for questions that come up that you do not want to answer immediately). Another is titled Feedback Board (to provide insights and observations during the class). When someone has a question about content or wants to offer feedback, he/she writes it on a post it and places it on the chart. Later, the group can circulate to read the questions and then post their own answers to the numerous questions or requests. Instead of you giving all the answers, the group takes responsibility. This creates real synergy and teamwork.
Provide download time
The brain shuts off when it is on data overload. We go into a dreamlike state (known as alpha state) .It’s like a computer freezing. After giving new information, give them quiet time to write down, reorganize their notes, recap with a neighbor or reflect on what was said. This will prevent short term memory loss.
Certain music can enhance creativity and relax the mind. For creative projects choose fast-paced and energizing music such as Haydn’s symphonies Nos. 67, and 68. For information processing, writing, and relaxing the mind, choose more passive music such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Play upbeat music during breaks to pump up the crowd. Gradually lower the music to bring them back. The music becomes an anchor for start and stop times.
Color and pictures stimulate the right brain and can increase retention by 85%. When taking notes, encourage learners to use several different colored highlighters. On a flip chart or slide, represent concepts with brightly-colored graphics, symbols, pictures. Silently flip through the visuals with music playing in the background as a “concert review.”
To make your seminars memorable and accelerate learning, get active! When people are having fun, they relax, lose their fears and become receptive to learning. Next time you prepare your lecture, don’t fall in love with your own voice. Remember what Confucius said ” I see and I remember, I hear and I forget, I do and I understand.”
Copyright © Diane DiResta. All rights reserved.