By Louis Goldman and Declan FitzPatrick
To process information effectively, people have to make that information their own and put it to constructive use. Unfortunately, listening to somebody else talk doesn't provide opportunities to actively engage with the information. If you’re asking your people to look at PowerPoint slides and listen to someone else talk, the most you can really expect them to do with the information is take some notes or write down their impressions. But that’s the highest level of engagement you can expect of your learners if you are just having them listen to somebody talk.
On the other hand, if you ask your people to act on that content during a workshop—to do something useful with it—then they can process that information.
Maybe you ask them to evaluate a scenario; or check their understanding; or have a discussion with someone to make sure they know where the information applies, what it connects to, or even what they are confused about. These types of interactions allow them to regenerate the information from memory and process it at a level where they might be expected to recall it and apply it in future situations.
When we speak, we construct meaning. Whoever is talking the most is learning the most.
Suppose you’re leading a 90-minute training session, and you’ve been talking for 90 minutes. You’ve been constructing meaning for 90 minutes. It’s likely that your audience had been listening to you and trying to make sense of it for a few minutes… and then they ran out of attention.
Unless you provide opportunities for your audience to apply the content and construct meaning, they won’t be learning what you want them to learn.
How can you provide those opportunities? Well, it partly depends on the quantity and complexity of information that you want them to process. Here are a couple of examples of how we have engaged corporate learners:
Ultimately, you want to get your audience talking to each other about the content you are presenting. Give them opportunities to make meaning of it and test out their thoughts with the people sitting near them. Because when they are talking about the content, making inferences about it, and considering how to apply it, that’s when the learning will happen.
Louis Goldman is Founder and Strategist at MPIX Communications. Since 2003, MPIX has been developing and delivering innovative programs that enable companies across a range of industries to improve their business results by optimizing their training and communications.
Declan FitzPatrick is a professional educator and curriculum developer with a focus on professional development. He has worked with MPIX Communications serving a wide variety of corporate clients since 2009.
We help our clients get business results by conveying information in ways that change how people think and act.
We help our clients define what information they need to convey in order to get a result. Then we communicate that information in a way that people can understand it, remember it and apply it.
We create performance-based training experiences which help learners carry the new knowledge or skills into their everyday work.
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