Photo by: Bruno Glätsch via Pixabay
Sit in chair. View PowerPoint presentation. Take test. Go back to work.
Fellow trainers, if this describes the typical experience of the learners in one of your training sessions, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to get creative!
I’ll share five techniques to incorporate creativity into your training. From my experience, these techniques can transform mundane training into an exciting learning experience for your participants!
One of the most compelling ways to spark creative ideas in training is to encourage discussion. A discussion is a tried-and-true presentation technique that can be either highly structured or completely unstructured and spontaneous. Discussions can be facilitated by a leader or they can be more casual.
During a discussion, learners get a powerful opportunity to share thoughts, insights, and perspectives. If facilitated effectively, the participants might even feel comfortable enough to rebut, disagree, or challenge the opinions of others. New and creative ideas are often the result of a robust discussion.
Explore the Hypothetical
Within the robust discussions, encourage your learners to explore the hypothetical and ask “what if” questions. Some creative ideas can be harnessed by challenging your audience with a hypothetical question or two.
A hypothetical question allows your learners to imagine what they wouldn’t normally imagine. Some of the most magnificent works of art have been created and some of the most ground-breaking inventions have all been made simply because a creative person pondered the “what if.”
Allow Different Exercise Formats
Effective training should always include some sort of application in the form of an activity or exercise. To help encourage creativity, don’t limit the learners to just one exercise format.
In my career as a trainer, I’ve taught several communications courses. Almost every one of those courses included an assignment where the learners were tasked with demonstrating their communication skills. For variety, I would often give my learners options for the format to complete the exercise. Some learners opted to complete a basic writing assignment, while others flexed their creative muscle by conducting a mock interview, acting out a skit, or playing a game like Pictionary.
Not every exercise can be completed using these creative techniques. However, if your content or task is conducive to having your learners put their own creative spin on it, why not give them an opportunity to try?
Consider Seating Arrangements
Classroom seating arrangements can play a big part in either encouraging or hindering creativity. Unfortunately, some training rooms have furniture that is stationery and is not capable of being moved or rearranged. However, if you have the luxury of moving your furniture, consider a seating arrangement that will allow your learners to experience the sense of a creative community. In my opinion, “pod” style seating works best.
A pod is nothing more than a table or a grouping of tables. Your learners sit at these tables during training, allowing them to network, share ideas, and complete group activities. With no more than 5-6 people at each pod, there’s a comfortable space to converse and work as a team.
Get Out of the Training Room
Often, creative genius is sparked outside of the training room. Why not break the monotony of the classroom environment by taking your learners on a field trip to another department? There, they can meet and learn from other colleagues who may have a direct impact on their role. Or they may simply become more aware of the day-to-day operations of another department within the organization.
If permitted, it might even be worthwhile to facilitate training in another area of your organization like a lobby or cafeteria, or even outside. Just make sure these areas don’t provide too many distractions for the learners or other people frequenting these areas.
I once facilitated one of our Langevin courses at a hotel in Los Angeles that had a lovely, shaded courtyard. On the final day of our 5-day program, we retreated to the courtyard for about an hour. I could literally see a renewed sense of energy and creativity among my participants by simply changing the environment and giving them an opportunity to enjoy southern California’s warm, Mediterranean-like weather.
Creativity is a vital part of the learning experience. I encourage you to go beyond the standard way of delivering training. Explore unique and different ways to stretch the creative limit within your training. For additional tips and techniques, check out Langevin’s workshop, 25 Creative Ways to Add Excitement to Your Training.