Balancing information overload

As a trainer and workshop host, I am often given feedback that I give too much information. I have to admit it is a constant balancing act. When learning my skill as a trainer and facilitator, I also took a lot of courses to fine-tune my skill and to see others in action. I trained with motivational speakers and platform speaker experts to learn how to engage whether in a small or large setting. It is this experience that gives me the confidence to do some of the unusual things I do from stages such as making people dance, stretching, power-poses and other things.

One thing I always found very annoying is when some trainers and facilitators, built a course on nearly no content. I was often disappointed that one idea could be the one day or two day course. Those situations left me unsatisfied as a learner. At a minimum every course should be answering why something is useful, important or other, what is it, how you can use it and then answer the what if scenario type questions. Even in a 30 minute talk you can fit that kind of structure in.

In gamification, we often make the analogy of the instructions from games to teach you how to play a game. Just over the weekend I downloaded a new game and it is indeed drip feeding me the steps to follow, what is still missing for me is the answer to the question “what is the purpose of the game?”, closely followed by “how can I make progress and win?”. It is making the enjoyment hard, because it seems all a bit like pointless building of stuff without knowing exactly what to do it for. Confusion is also what helps us learn, because our brain will go looking for sense making clues. I know it is trying to compare it to previous games I played and how they are similar or different.

The storyline tends to help along our understanding, which then makes drip feeding of the story and game play interesting and compelling. When I take this approach into building a workshop, I tend to keep the storyline as realistic as possible and relate it back to the roles people have in an organisation. Frameworks and theory allow for conceptual discussion, exercises then make the concepts come to life and individuals experience how they could use the skill in the process. Toys of all kinds from story cubes, to lego, to boardgames and purpose designed cards are useful to bring a new level of engagement into a training room. For years I have been making groups draw out the complex concepts they are dealing with.

I have always liked challenging my brain with information overwhelm and then getting it through to executing based on its current level of understanding. I get bored too easily otherwise, if we are left with too much time to think we also tend to start judging, whereas if we stretch the mind to follow even mainly subconsciously then the brain stretches to keep up. In a training room it is my role as a trainer to ensure the balance between challenge and overwhelm doesn’t reach anxiety stage, but actually challenges towards action and implementation. I don’t always get it 100% right for everyone, but the one thing people will never say is that they didn’t learn a thing in my sessions, because typically they have always been stretched.

How do you balance information, gamification and learner instant feedback to optimise your classroom training?

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