The 5 secrets to successful meetings

Here are Krys’s 5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning

Many of you may have already come across the “5 secrets of Accelerated Learning”, which we have expanded upon and discussed at length. But do you know the 5 secrets to successful meetings?

This may look like cheating or a little bit cheeky, but actually these 5 secrets of accelerated learning* are equally applicable to running great meetings. Let’s just double check that shall we?

*I shall be swapping the word “Learner” to “Participant”

 

Now here are the 5 Secrets to Successful Meetings – can you spot the differences?

 

  • Business focussed and participant centred – If the meeting is about what the business needs, as well as what the participants are interested in then surely this will engage the participants? In order for you to know what the business needs and the participants are interested in, you will need to understand what the business is currently focussed on and what is challenging the participants (speak to them all?)
  • Be a facilitator – Make the meeting flow and make it interactive. Facilitate means to “make easy”, so think of all the ways you can make it easy for the participants to engage. Make it inclusive and led my the participants instead of driven by you.
  • The participants come in all shapes and sizes so ensure there is variety in terms of pitch, pace and tone as well as activities. Think of all the different things you can include in a meeting: brainstorm, discussion, presentation, group activity, search and discovery. There are lots and lots of different ways to liven up meetings!
  • The environment – make it conducive to openness and honesty. Think about the physical environment – is it stimulating but not distracting? Which room layout will work best? Create a social environment where it is easy for people to feel part of the group and included. Get them interacting and collaborating (this may be affected by the room layout). Also think about the emotional environment – how are you going to make people feel safe and brave enough to make suggestions, especially if they break the mould?
  • The brain – understand how the brain works so that you can maximise the efforts and avoid people getting bored or distracted. A simple thing to do is to change pace, pitch or tone every 20 minutes. Nothing drastic, but maybe get them reflecting following a discussion or an activity.

There are  lots more things I could say about these 5 secrets but this is a good starting point and hopefully useful!

Microlearning?

John Bersin in his article “The Growing Role of Microlearning”, published in the Chief Learning Officer (Oct 2016) says that:

“The way people want to learn today can be described in one word: fast”. 

So you might think that an advocate for accelerated learning would be excited by this, but we, at How to Accelerate Learning, do consider this with an air of caution……..

Accelerated learning helps to imbed learning better and deeper because of 5 key principles:

  • Business focussed and learner centred objectives
  • Using a facilitative approach rather than “training”
  • Using variety in design to engage the learners
  • Having an environment that is conducive to learning
  • Using what we know about the brain to maximise retention

Microlearning can be learning as short as 30-40 seconds, so forgive me for being a skeptic but can that work? My approach is always a pragmatic one and so as I write this I am also considering a challenge that I have been set, which could also serve as an experiment. On May 11th 2017, the Learning and Performance Institute launched a series of short videos created by me, Krystyna Gadd, Founder of How to Accelerate Learning.

The series is called “100 ways to Learn” and can be found in a number of ways:

  • YouTube – watching the first video will automatically run all the videos that have now been released
  • Twitter – search for the #100ways2Learn hashtag
  • LinkedIn – check out the Learning and Performance Institute for the daily release around midday (GMT) every day

Sharon Bowman in her book “Brain science to make training stick” sites one of her trumps to be “Shorter trumps longer” implying that a shorter bit of learning is better than something longer. So I would love to know what impact these 30-40 second videos have had on you?

A blogy about Andragogy…..(it’s an adult learning thing)

the-learning-loop-3I very recently attended a  Learning Loop event delivered by Krystyna Gadd (I’d highly recommend it) and it’s really made me think about something in particular…

What’s different about how we learn as adults compared to when we were nippers? Is there anything different?

I’ve pondered this for years. And particularly so after observing a family member’s experience of taking on a Higher Education course.This family member (let’s call her Audrey to protect the innocent), at the time was taking on the daunting mission of doing a degree level course to further her career, as well as holding down a very demanding full time role and running a household with accompanying kids and other trimmings.

Now Audrey, I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, isn’t your naturally academic type. I say this with all due respect, as I am also not the type to take to that ‘study’ thing easily. This doesn’t mean we’re not good at it, but perhaps we’re both more inclined to learn from experience and real life. And therein lies the point. Which we’ll come back to in a mo…..

Back to Audrey’s experience. She’s at University doing all the expected stuff; attending lectures, writing assignments, reading books, endlessly regurgitating references, quotes, theories, models… All pretty one-dimensional if you ask me. Then to add to this ‘flat’ way of studying, there seemed to be little in the way of learning support. On asking a tutor to clarify an element on a task, the response she got was in the realms of, “Well if you don’t know the answer to that yourself, then you shouldn’t be here”.

I was suitably outraged; raving on about how a learning/teaching professional should know better. How the fact that the learners are adults shouldn’t mean that their experience shouldn’t be enjoyable and multi-faceted. I found it very hard to swallow.

The Learning Loop - 18So ever since, it’s made me think; Why don’t we apply the same principles with adult learning as we do with children’s learning?  Do our brains really change so much that we suddenly become more comfortable with theory and reading and tell, tell, tell as opposed to playing, testing, multi-sensory experiencing?

The answer, it seems, is both yes and no. Cue, Krys’s Learning Loop……Enter Andragogy and Pedagogy. No, these are not characters in Welsh mythology. Simply put, Andragogy is about the principles of adult learning and Pedagogy is about kids’ learning.There IS a difference between how we learn as adults versus kids.

Here’s very briefly why(from Malcolm Knowles Andragogy)

  • Adults are more self-directed and self-evaluating and also able to assess progress or learning gaps
  • As we age, we naturally acquire experience which we tap into as a resource when learning
  • Adults learn in context of what’s real to them and rationalise or judge the learning based on that reality

We encourage children to play in order to learn. Isn’t there something in that when we consider adult learning?I’m not saying we all need to start kicking around in sandpits, getting play-doh in our hair or raiding the dressing up box (although that all sounds pretty fun to me). For me, this is exactly where Accelerated Learning comes in. Done well, it gives us the opportunity to enrich the learning experience. To test and play around with things. To put them in context of our reality. To hear, see and feel the learning.

FacilitatorOne of the 5 Secrets that Krystyna reveals in her Learning Loop is to be a FACILITATOR as opposed to a traditional TRAINER. For me this really resonates. Facilitating learning is very different from being someone who’s just imparting knowledge. It’s about providing an interactive, brain-friendly, varied environment where people are able discover and create learning.  I’ve always seen my role as giving people the best, most appealing opportunity possible to learn and stretch themselves. That means learners can then choose how much they’d like to put in, and therefore gain from the experience.

And that is exactly why Accelerated Learning is so effective. It seeks to make the experience valuable, high impact and lasting. It enables us to create the learning for ourselves in a way that MEANS something to us and that we can APPLY. 

 

Make it real – use your senses….. Guest Blog by Stella Collins

 

search.jpgI am very pleased to introduce to you, (drum roll…..) Stella Collins, author of “Neuroscience for L&D” and Creative Director of Stellar Learning. Stella knows lots of great practical stuff about the brain that can help people to learn better, with more retention and in this blog will be discussing the use of your senses! Stella’s brain friendly approach fits in perfectly with our approach using the 5 secrets of accelerated learning, where the 5th secret is about the brain and how it learns the best. So here are Stella’s thoughts……

Make it real – use your senses!

The Learning Loop - 18Do you ever read or hear something which makes you almost feel you’d been there yourself?  Then there are other times when you hear or read something and whilst you know all the words make sense and  the language is clear, somehow you just don’t quite ‘get it’- it seems a bit abstract, flat, hard to get a handle on?

Perhaps it’s because the abstract information isn’t rich enough for you to get a concrete, textural, sonorous, colourful, vibrant vision of the information.  Perhas there just isn’t quite enough going on in your brain to make it real and you’re relying on using your energy hungry pre-frontal cortex to analyse it.

When information comes to us directly through our senses we have a rich, complex mixture of information spreading throughout our brains.  I once heard we receive over 2 billion bits of information a second.  You have a visual cortex, auditory cortex, motor cortex,  an olfactory bulb for a sense of smell and part of your parietal lobe to process taste allowing a rich body of information to be processed throughout  your brain.  But when information is like this – just words – there is no direct sense  associated with them (just like in this sentence).  Which makes it harder for you or your audience to comprehend because there’s nothing very tangible to process.

There’s now research to back up what great speakers and writers have always known – using language that paints a picture, rings true or feels solid is making your brain work almost as if the sensory information is really there; which literally makes it easier to make sense of.

Researchers tested  what happened in subjects’ brains when they were touching rough textures like sandpaper.  They saw that specific parts of the brain were stimulated  when people feel texture in the real world.  Next they asked subjects to listen to short sentences containing textural metaphors such as ‘a rough day’ or ‘a slimy person’ and found that the same brain areas were activated.

So if you’re  training or sharing information use metaphors, stories, sensory based language because it’s really creating extraordinary sensations  in your audience’s head.  They will grasp your meaning, see your point or hear you out more easily – and remember it for longer too.

Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3318916/

What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

190216_Kirsty_0411 Logo-Light-BkI have great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kirsty Lewis of the School of Facilitation as a guest blogger. She is an expert in facilitation and so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on what it means to be a facilitator rather than a trainer (the second of the 5 secrets of accelerated learning)

 

What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?

This was the questions posed to me by Krystyna Gadd earlier this week and it got me thinking, is there a difference?  What is it?  What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?

Here are some simple definitions:

A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’

A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’

Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge.  There may be a test to check understanding

A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining.  A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.

A quote I found suggests:

“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”

This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings).  Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable?  In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities.

I noticed I shifted inside when I started to facilitate.  I learnt to trust the process I had designed.  I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group.  One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly.  No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen.  I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.

Here are my thoughts about some of the skills, behaviours and beliefs for a facilitator:

Skills

  • Creating a container that is safe, enables people to express their ideas and opinions, learn
  • Fantastic questioning skills to create engagement and probe understanding
  • Listen to what is and isn’t said
  • Sense into the energy of the group to adjust, move or continue
  • Innately understand people ie EQ
  • Decent flipchart creations!

Behaviours & Beliefs

  • Open and curious to what is
  • Adaptable
  • A deep belief in what they do
  • A passion for their role in the room

I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share.  If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.

Facilitator

The 2nd of my 5 secrets of accelerated learning – double click to see more detail

 

Is accelerated learning applicable to online learning?

the-learning-loop-3So David Wallace, asked me this question, as he is familiar with my work and was wondering how the “5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning” apply to the online arena. My immediate response was “of course it does” and thought I should address this quickly while it is fresh in my mind.

So here is how the 5 secrets apply to the online arena:

  • Business focused and learner centred objectives – essential for ANY learning – if you know what the business needs then the webinar, live classroom or e-learning will meet those needs and be utilised. The objectives therefore always need to be explicit and what the learners can expect to be able to know or do by the end. This will give the learning credibility and also determine whether people invest the time to use it or they recommend it to others.
  • Be a facilitator not a trainer – Webinars can be an excuse for a trainer to talk into the ether, especially if it is a large group you are broadcasting to. (David told me that BT have run webinars with 1000’s of participants!). They may well think that interaction is difficult with such large numbers. However I believe that all it takes it  a shift in mindset to move from trainer to facilitator. Ask yourself “How could I stimulate thinking?” – an easy answer is to ask questions and to get people to use their imaginations. Use the chat boxes to capture any answers (you will need  host that can do that for you for large numbers). Send people worksheets where they can interact with the learning and put it into their own words. That way it will be stickier!
  • Look at all the various ways in which learners can learn – there is a temptation in online learning to use a small number of methods of delivery: presentation, video, audio, poll. Try to think beyond that small range and think of which methods from the “100 ways to learn” you could use.
  • Make the environment safe but visually appealing – feed our natural childlike curiosity  and entice the learners to learn together. Make your visuals quirky, curious and interesting. People are becoming immune to the “slickness” that PowerPoint provides and yearn for something different. Mix it up a little by using Prezi perhaps and some hand drawn images. You don’t have to be an artist to be able to draw some stick men or simple faces.

If you would like to find out more then please do:

If you are mainly involved in the online arena, I would love to hear your thoughts about the 5 secrets!

 

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