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Creative Training: Five Steps For Success

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Sarah PallettCorporate training has increasingly embraced creative training techniques by incorporating games, activities, simulations, exercises, icebreakers etc. to enhance the learning transfer back into the workplace. The overall objectives are to energise and engage participants, build confidence, add variety and often humour, to be current and up to date and to break from the lecturing style of training. But do they work?

Some games and activities will be embraced by participants and some will be met with resistance. This can be related to confidence, and with a variety of learning styles it can be difficult to please everyone in the room, but there are steps you can take to ensure that any games and activities are effective and appropriate.

Step One: Look at the audience and their needs and tailor the games accordingly. Why are they there? What do they want to achieve from the training and what is their desired outcome?  The games and activities should enhance the training experience with each participant learning something which they can apply back into their role and workplace.  Although games and activities are often considered light relief in the learning cycle, they still need to be modern, appropriate, relevant and compliment the audience objectives.

Step Two: Research the business culture of the organisation in advance, and make sure you identify the training objectives. Use this information to ensure your training is relevant to the participant's business environment and sector. It is also important to ensure any activities and games are compliant with equality and discrimination policies and laws.  Inclusivity is vital, so take particular care to ensure games are relevant to all ages, genders and staff levels - especially those participants that are shy or lack confidence.

Step Three: Familiarise yourself with the environment where the training will take place, including what technology and resources are available. Find out if you will have easy access to outside areas (there are some brilliant outdoor games that can be really useful in the right environment and group). Will you have break-out rooms? All of these questions are important, as there is nothing worse than planning an interactive game which involves lots of movement but not having the space to execute it, or technology failing during a quiz or online activity. The flow of training and focus can be easily lost if the equipment and/or the environment are not suitable or functioning.

Step Four: Introduce games and activities that create movement and increase social interactions - especially those that cross departments, teams and boundaries. This can help participants relax and feel more comfortable, which can lead to more open speech and potential new ideas and solutions being discovered. Getting everyone to move around the room also increases energy levels, making participants more alert for the core training (particularly important if your topic is somewhat dry in nature).

Step Five: Plan time in terms of the length of each game and activity and ensure an equal balance between the different types of training. This will help you keep a good pace which encourages the participants to focus. Allow plenty of time for participants to get fully involved in the games and activities, but not so much that they become distracted. Communicate clearly before you begin and at each stage regarding how much time has been allocated or is left. Specify the goal of the activity in advance and when it is finished, tying the activity into the training objectives so the participants can clearly see the connection.

Creative training techniques definitely work when correctly utilised. They make training more engaging and memorable, and allow participants with different learning styles to learn in their own way. Next time you are considering what activities to include in your training course, remember that it is vital to:

1. Tailor all games and activities to the organisational culture as well as the participant's learning styles

2. Ensure there is an equal balance between the different delivery methods

3. Plan time accordingly

4. Incorporate activities that create movement and increase social interaction

5. Be clear and open about why the games and activities are relevant and what participants will get out of them

And finally, make sure you continuously develop your repertoire of creative training techniques and tools. An activity that makes a powerful impact the first time it is used will soon become boring if the participant is faced with it next time they are in your training room, causing them to zone out and/or unintentionally sabotage the learning opportunity for other participants. See each group as an opportunity for you to learn how to better engage your participants and continuously ask yourself the question: What can I do to help make this learning memorable, engaging and effective?

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Looking for some new activities?  Click here to browse our extensive range of resources for creative training