To ensure that your learners make the most from a learning session they are attending it is imperative for the L&D professional to create an experience for them and not simply a training session.
Although theoretically we say that we have moved beyond traditional training I find that, as a CIPD assessor, a lot of L&D professionals still focus greatly on telling teaching approaches. I’m not here to say that these approaches are not needed. At times, perhaps with a huge audience, you might have to rely more on traditional training methods rather than enabling learning, but in general I find that we have no excuse not to create more of an experience for the learner.
I genuinely believe that the more that I immerse someone in a learning experience the better, easier and smarter they will learn. What do I mean by a learning experience though? As a starting point it means that I try to involve the learner as much as possible, allowing them to generate their learning, ideally through a number of mediums and using as many senses as possible to recreate the experience. Wow! That’s a lot you must be thinking! It is, and for this post let’s focus more closely on maximising the use of the senses.
Here’s a breakdown of how I engage learners using a number of different senses to generate a learning experience.
Sight - make sure that your visuals are clear and that there is a variety of them. For example use videos, engaging picture-full slides, your own self and usable handouts to truly vary what the learner sees. I am not a hater of slides but I’m not keen on trainers who just rely on slides to deliver their content. What I say to my team is that they need to be able to deliver that content at that same high level with or without the slides. Though there’s more to it than slides! Short videos work really well but these also must be properly curated and that you can use them for business purposes. Same with your presence - learners should equally see an engaged, well presented and professional individual.
Sound - I regularly use audio to support learners. One way to do this is by using snippets of Podcasts. This works particularly well with Pragmatists as Podcasts typically present real life situations and input by experts and people in the field. Additionally it’s worth have some background music that matches your learning activity. If it’s a high energy one put an upbeat song. If it’s reflections swap to classical, relaxing tunes. Also think about your tone, where you are standing in the room and how you are projecting your voice.
Kinaesthetic - get learners to actually do things that they would do at work and that closely resemble real life. Ideally support them in hands-on activities that involve collaboration. For example, if I’m training on management skills, perhaps delegation, I get learners to plan how they would delegate a project to their own team. I would also give them a real life work challenge that they need to work through where they have to delegate work accordingly. The more practical and life like their learning experience is, the more experiential and valuable it becomes.
Smell - is one of the senses that a lot of trainers tend to forget about! Make sure the room smells nice (particularly after lunch if people had their food in the training room!)
And Taste? I would say make sure you have well fed people as otherwise nobody will be engaged!
Now to you. How do you use the senses to create a #learningexperience rather than just a training event?
Joseph Grech, Chartered FCIPD and ICF-accredited coach is the founder of Smarter Learning Ltd. and an experienced L&D professional.