If you want people to learn, you need to involve them.
There are a few things you can do to create a training environment where people feel involved, engaged and curious from the moment they walk into the room.
One of my favourite quotes about learning is by Benjamin Franklin “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
If it says the room seats 12 then typically that’s exactly what it means. 12 people sitting down, shoulder to shoulder. Think caravan sizes. If it says it sleeps 6 you know that means one actual bed, a pull-out sofa and someone will be sleeping in the wardrobe!
Always aim to book a room with at least 50% more capacity than you need. It’s not just about room to sit comfortably. You want people to be able to get up and move around the room.
If you can, ditch the desks. This may depend on the design of your content but ask yourself, do people really need to sit behind a desk for this to work? There will instantly be a sense of curiosity and engagement if there is a large space, no desks and chairs set out in a U shape. If you need the desks, then try café style. This means small tables with 4-6 people at each, dotted around the room like a café. This lends itself to a more relaxed atmosphere and it is easy to get table groups to work together and have discussions.
I know it’s not always possible and I have worked in a venue where they had cable tied the desks together and put up signs saying ‘do not move the desks’. I took scissors to the cable ties on one occasion, but it didn’t go down well! We trainers take our environment very seriously.
By making the whole room the ‘front’ you have a much more engaging atmosphere. Putting posters or flipcharts on all 4 walls, putting things on the desks and the floor will create interest and curiosity. If a poster shows a model or acronym that will not be explained until later in the day, or even the next day, we know that this helps to make the content more memorable when you get to it. A good site to find out more is Claremont https://www.claremontgi.com/blogs/what-is-360-degree-learning/
Engage all the senses
This type of classroom setup also appeals to all the VAK learning styles.
V – Visual (they prefer something to look at, so posters and slides will work for them)
A – Auditory (they prefer to listen so will like some music to play during activities)
K – Kinaesthetic (they like to grasp ideas and physical touch, so will like toys, props and handouts)
The training shop is a great website to find training toys and props to excite and engage your audience. www.thetrainingshop.co.uk
I’ll be honest I have never come across anyone whose learning preference was Olfactory (smell) or Gustatory (taste) but that doesn’t mean you can’t include them. A bowl of fruit, some sweets or biscuits, will mean that all the senses are engaged
Appealing slides and handouts.
Visual learners love to see information written down. But they will also spot any typos and errors, and these will become a major distraction for them. Slides should be easy to read, don’t use too many words, and wherever possible, use pictures. Professional slides and beautiful handouts, with consistent use of your brand colours and logo, will make you stand out.
Kinaesthetic learners will love to have something to get hold of. Branded notebooks and pens are a worthwhile investment that they will encourage learners to make notes and continue to use them long after the training has finished.
Too informal for corporate?
I can remember setting my room up once for a corporate client. The event was to be opened by a director. He looked around the room, took in the toys, the posters, the props and he looked at me and rolled his eyes. As he addressed the group he started to move around the room and he picked up a stretchy toy and started to play with it as he spoke. After a few minutes he made eye contact with me and I just smiled.
This is not a frivolous notion. Some people think more clearly when they are fiddling with something in their hands. The left side of our brain likes logic, it will pay attention when someone is speaking. The right side of our brain is creative and will get bored. That is why people doodle.
So be brave, book the big room, ditch the tables, create beautiful handouts, put out the toys and get great results.
Jacqui Flavell is a Learning consultant at Gritty people www.grittypeople.co.uk