One of the best parts of being in a community of educators is that there’s always something new to learn from other like-minded individuals. Call it, adding to your toolbox.
Colleagues, mentors and thought-makers are constantly swapping tips, tricks, and anecdotes to help craft our work to make it stronger, more meaningful and more relevant.
Here are some of my own reminders and learnings from the past week. I hope to make this a weekly feature you can use to replenish your own toolkit.
- Know your purpose – meaning, remember the purpose of each exercise/game/discussion you introduce. Does it tie back to your desired outcomes?
- Don’t brainstorm cold – treat brainstorming like an athletic endeavor – to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your brainstorming sessions, prepare your team with an energizer or warmup that gets them in an alert, present, and slightly brain-fried state. You’ll get those ideas popping faster.
- Introverts have longer runways – remember that introverts often just need more time to process ideas and thoughts. Help them feel comfortable by giving them the topic before brainstorming sessions, and utilize more small-group discussion.
- Experiential learning and facilitation go hand-in-hand – a facilitator’s job is to help lead your students to the answer (to the truth). Key to uncovering those answers is adding an experiential element to your session where participants are more active and in control of their learning. This leads to self-reflection which leads to participants finding the answers to the questions facilitators pose. What’s more rewarding – to be told the answer or to discover it yourself?
- Choose simplicity – key to retention (beyond adding an element of self-reflection and direct application to the work being done) is simplicity. Have you broken down your teaching points into easily digestible bites? Make sure you leave time for a wrap-up that covers key points.
- Observe by playing – With just 10 minutes, you can learn and observe the dynamics of a team by playing one simple Improv-based game – key to applying an Improvisers approach to training and facilitation is recognizing that Improv is a teachable skill set, and not a comedy routine. Teach a team how to improvise, and watch their communication and collaboration soar.
Designing training programs and initiatives to help bring out the best in your employees and help them collaborate and communicate better is hardly a one-size-fits all approach. Just ask Susan Cain.
Not only must we consider the different ways we all learn, but it’s equally, if not more important to design training that allows both introverts and extroverts to succeed.
Roughly 40% of us (including myself) are introverts, meaning our energy comes from solitude, as opposed to other people. At work and at home, introverts need quiet time and solitude to arrange our thoughts and process information.
Often times, brainstorming sessions or meetings favor extroverts – it is often a scenario where being the best or loudest talker is more important than having the best idea.
So how can we design training programs, Improv classes, and brainstorming sessions that truly allow room for all of us to succeed and where we all feel welcome?
Most importantly, how should we design classes that allow introverts to feel more comfortable expressing their ideas? In a room full of extroverts, it can be difficult to feel heard. Here are some suggestions:
1. Add in some alone time
- Timeouts fuel introverts thinking, creativity and decision-making. In order for introverts to do their best work, this must be acknowledged. Extroverts can benefit from some solitude as well, to develop insights and learn to rely more on their own thoughts and ideas.
- alone time also allows introverts to process information
2. Adjust full-group discussions
- Debriefs are such a crucial part of Applied Improv and many professional development classes. For introverts, adjust some full-group debrief to small groups or one-on-one’s where more authentic discussions can be had
- Encourage participants to write down thoughts as opposed to sharing them out loud – self-reflection is still taking place
- Encourage in-depth questioning of games and activities to allow more time to process each segment and its lessons
3. Celebrate our differences, remember our similarities
- Acknowledging the differences between extroverts and introverts is important. The more we can get to know our colleagues and our different working styles, the better we can communicate and collaborate
- Learn “how to make your partner look good”, develop empathy and connection
- Always circle-back to your overall purpose and mission as a team. Truly make an effort to allow both introverts and extroverts to shine. Pushing people out of their comfort zone is important, but having a home-base to return to and re-charge will make the journey easier for many.
What’s the drill for today? Let’s remember that Improv is not just for extroverts. In fact, I happen to be an introvert who learned to come out of her shell because of Improv.
Be mindful of introverts when designing training. For example, include more time for self-reflection, and smaller group activity.