MicroSkillsThis is the 4th in my series of 5 easy brain tips for engaging learners from my session at the CIPD NAP conference in June 2015. The 5 brain tips can be remembered using the mnenomic CRUMMSS:

  • C – choice – last weeks blog
  • R – Rewards – this weeks blog
  • UM – Use metaphors
  • MS – Microskills
  • S – stories

IMG_1279IMG_1185MS stands for Micro skills. Micro skills are small things that the learners can learn to do quickly that will give them confidence and enthusiasm to learn more.

By developing some skills that can be implemented immediately, these skills become almost second nature and automatic. This automatic type behaviour can come from a part of the brain that is very low in energy consumption called the basal ganglia, as well as the long-term memory*.

Moving learning quickly into the long-term memory frees up the higher thinking brain for the new learning and gives the learners confidence.

Most of the time a workshop starts with a big picture view of a theory or model, which may be a logical beginning but it could also be quite overwhelming for the learner. Giving them some quick-to-apply new skills can boost their confidence, calm their fears and speed up the learning.

Examples of useful microskills could be:

  • On an IT course – getting the learners to practice using the help facility so that they can access tips quickly
  • On a finance course – some really easy calculations that they do in pairs
  • Health & Safety course – use a spot the difference picture to spot hazards in pairs
  • An assertiveness course – start off with some simple rapport skills like matching and mirroring
  • A presentation skills course – practice the introduction of a presentation in a line in stages – name and title, then purpose of presentation, then the outcomes. Build on each stage.

*David Rock “Your Brain at Work”, Harper Business 2009

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