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Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!


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Author: Sharon Bowman. Four ways to make training unforgettable.

Published in: Education

Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!

  1. 1. Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience! by Sharon L. Bowman, MA Why? So that our learners will not only HEAR our information, but REMEMBER it and USE it when the learning experience is over. The word EPIC is also an acronym for four elements that help make a learning experience larger-than-life and totally unforgettable.Think of an experience youhave had that stands out in your When we remember to use thesemind - perhaps a personal one four elements in our training, welike a wedding, the birth of your increase the “memorability ofchild, a death, a miracle. Or the moment,” helping ourmaybe it’s a professional one - listeners retain the informationgetting your dream job, a they hear.sudden reversal of fortune, apromotion. Or it could be a EPIC learning experiences arecultural or national event - 9/11, those that are:war, a discovery, a celebration. EMOTIONAL. LearnersThose experiences are epic engage emotionally as well asevents in our lives - they are intellectually.larger-than-life and totallyunforgettable. And one of our PARTICIPATORY. Learnersgoals as trainers is to create are involved in their ownlearning experiences that are learning.larger than life and totallyunforgettable for our learners. 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. 8Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!IMAGE-RICH. Learners form Try the ideas below to addmental pictures to help positive emotions to yourremember the learning. training.CONNECTED. Learning is Best-Kept Secret: Anytime youconnected to learners’ personal use the other EPIC elements -lives and experiences. participatory, image-rich, and connected to learners lives - youThere are a multitude of ways to automatically create a positivemake a learning experience emotional learning experiencelarger-than-life and totally for your audiences. They beginunforgettable. Listed below are to associate learning withsome simple tips to begin using pleasure, and they will want tothese elements in your learn more.presentations. As you begin to“tinker with the tips,” more Stories: Anecdotes, verbalEPIC ideas will spark and you’ll illustrations, metaphors, andbe able to create your own EPIC analogies create emotionallist of ideas and activities. connections to the information. Stories can also be participatory (pause in the story and have your listeners guess what will happen next), image-rich (use as much detail as you can), and connected to learners lives (have them discuss how the story relates to their own lives). Humor: It’s not about telling jokes. It’s about opening a space and time for learners to comment or share their related experiences so that THEY can EMOTIONAL generate humor in learning. It’s also about using humorousEmotion directs attention which stories and sayings to accentuatedirects learning. The more the information in fun ways.emotionally charged a learning Remember, humor releasesexperience is, the more it will be endorphins - the pleasureremembered by the ones chemicals of the brain - and weexperiencing it. all like to laugh while we learn. 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. 9Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!Pain: Many presenters want Neighbor-Nudge: Also called atheir listeners to feel the pain of Pair-Share, or a Dyad-Dialogue,a need or unresolved conflict this activity is the easiest,before they move onto the quickest, and most low-risk topleasure of filling that need or do. Simply direct your learnerssolving the problem. A caveat to to turn to the person sitting nextremember: With too much pain, to them (making sure no one islearners will try to avoid left out), and tell that person thereminders of the pain later. That most important thing they’vemeans learners will avoid any learned from the presentation solearning situation that reminds far. Learners can also share athem of the pain, including your question or a response to thepresentations. And the worst information they’ve heard. Totalpain isn’t physical - humiliation, activity time is about 30 secondsridicule, shame, embarrassment to 2 minutes.are all painful emotions thatmany people have felt while Birds-of-a-Feather: Learnerslearning something new. Be stand and find others who likecareful with pain, and move to the same junk food (movies,pleasure as quickly as you can. colors, vacation spots, genre of books, sports, whatever). They form small standing groups, introduce themselves to their group members, and tell one thing they want to learn from the presentation, a question they have, an outcome they want, or a fact they already know about the topic. After about 2 - 3 minutes, volunteers shout out a few of the comments made in their groups. You can also make PARTICIPATORY the sorting topic-related (i.e. find others who have the sameThe suggestions listed below all work experience, who think ofcreate participatory learning the same word or phrase relatedexperiences, connecting learners to the topic, who are from theto each other as well as to the same department, etc.).Totaltopic they are learning about. activity time is about 5 minutes. 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. 10Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!Take-A-Stand: One wall of the learner chooses an object androom stands for a certain issue then makes a group with threerelated to the topic. Another or four other people who chosewall stands for the opposite the same object. Objects canissue. Learners take a stand at relate to the topic in some way.either wall or in between After learners form smalldepending upon their responses groups, they discuss somethingto the issues. Walls can also related to the topic or to thestand for strongly agree/strongly information just presented.disagree, yes/no, love it/hate it,or other topic-related facts. From: How To Give It So They Get It!Learners introduce themselves and Shake, Rattle and Roll! Author: Sharon Bowmanto persons standing closest tothem and discuss their “stand.”You process the activity withthe whole group by askingquestions like, “What did younotice about the group? Whatdid you learn from the activity?What patterns emerged? Whatquestions did the activity raise?”Total activity time is about 5 -10 minutes.Four Corners: A variation ofTake-A-Stand, with the four IMAGE-RICHcorners of the room representingtopic-related material. Learners Think TV commercials, movies,move to a corner (or in-between billboards, magazine ads, streetcorners), introduce themselves signs, Microsoft Windows, andto those in the same corner, and the multitude of ways we arediscuss why they chose to stand bathed in images throughout thein that particular place. Process day. We are an image-richthe activity as in Take-A-Stand. culture, and we rely on images in order to learn and rememberPeople Sorters: Use small information. Here are a fewobjects such as miniature toys, ways to make your trainingerasers, card decks, plastic tools, image-rich.colored dots, or stickers to sortlearners into random groups(one object per person). Each 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. 11Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!Metaphor: A metaphor is a Learning Aids: Simply put, away of giving the learner the learning aid is anything thatessence of any idea by helps the listener learn betterrepresenting it with something and remember more. Exampleselse. Metaphors paint mental of learning aids that are image-pictures inside the learner’s rich include: toys, props, tools,head, which is one of the most household gadgets, nature items,powerful ways of moving musical instruments, blankinformation into long-term paper, worksheets, skits,memory. A few reminders: simulations, improvisation,Keep the metaphor simple, use stories, songs, jokes, one-liners,metaphors that everyone games, cartoons, metaphor,understands, let learners create movement, music.their own metaphors, and createvisual as well as verbalmetaphors. Need some ideas?Direct learners to choose orname an object and then createten ways the topic is like thatobject, or ways the objectrepresents information related tothe topic. Or have learners drawor sculpt a representation of thetopic and its variouscomponents.Stories: See comments under CONNECTED“Emotional” in the first sectionof EPIC tips. We remember best what is linked to what we already knowIllustrations: Whenever as well as what is connected topossible, use a cartoon, photo, our own life experiences. Whendoodle, logo, shape, picture, or we link new learning to old, wesymbol to illustrate an important remember the new informationpoint. Or have your listeners longer and we can assimilate itcreate their own “doodles” as into our lives more easily. Thethey take notes. The images will following ideas help learnersbe remembered long after the connect the new with the old.words are forgotten. 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. 12Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!Learner-Created them what they will get out ofConnections: Audiences need the time they spend with you -time, even if it’s a simple and how they will be able to useNeighbor Nudge minute, to what they learn.connect what they have heard totheir own lives. You don’t Action Plans: As part of thenecessarily need to make these closing of your training, learnersconnections for them. All you write and discuss their actionneed to do is to create the space plans with you and each other.and time for them to discuss the An action plan can be simplyconnections. Afterwards, allow completing the sentence: “I plana few more minutes to process to ...” and saying/writing whattheir connections verbally so they plan to do with whatthat others in the group who they’ve learned. Or it can havemay have had trouble making timelines and procedural steps.the personal connections can The action plan becomes thehear how to do it. learner’s commitment to himself/herself to use what hasIt’s About Them: Always bring been learned.your stories and activities backto your learners’ lives. Know Koosh Throw: Learners form aenough about them to be able to standing circle, or stand by theirmake your presentation relate chairs, and toss a koosh ball (orpersonally in some way other similar soft throwable(remember, apart from their object) randomly to each, your listeners are human The catchers share the mostbeings, and information that important thing they learned andconnects them to things we all what they plan to do with theexperience as humans is new information. If time allows,powerful). they can tell the group what they appreciated about workingWIIFM: “What’s In It For together, or complimentMe?” In pairs or small groups, individuals in the group. Thelearners discuss what they want koosh is tossed until everyoneto learn, what outcomes they has had a chance to respond. Ifwant to walk away with, or how the group is really large, theythey can use the information can divide themselves intothey’ve heard. They explore smaller standing groups, eachtheir own WIIFMs before, with its own koosh ball.during, or after yourpresentation. Or you can tell 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. 13Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!Let’s Trade: Each learner memory. They help learners notwrites his name and work phone only HEAR information, butor email address on the front of REMEMBER and USE it. And,an index card. On the back he best of all, these teaching toolswrites “I plan to ...” and finishes make the learning experiencethe sentence, writing how he larger-than-life and totallyplans to use the information unforgettable.learned. Then learners stand,pair up, and read their action You don’t need to make everyplans to their partners. They presentation or training EPIC intrade cards, find new partners, size - only the ones you reallyand read the action plan they want your audiences tohave in their hands. They trade remember.again until they have read andtraded at least three cards. Then If you find it hard to include allthey take the card they end up four EPIC elements, then simplywith and, in two or three weeks, choose one to concentrate oncall the person whose card they during a single presentation.have to see how they are doing When you’re comfortable withwith their action plan. one EPIC element, then include another, then another, until you finally have a presentation that is emotional, participatory, image-rich, and connected to learners’ lives. Down the road, when you’ve become accustomed to creating presentations that are larger than life and totally unforgettable, you may be standing in a grocery store check-out line, perhaps a little weary and Final Thoughts on preoccupied as you wait. Creating EPIC Learning Suddenly a voice behind you Experiences calls your name. You turn and the person exclaims, “I heardAll four EPIC elements help you speak five years ago. Youmove learning from short-term were wonderful! I remembermemory into long-term everything you said. And I’ve used so much of what you 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. 14Make Your Next Training an EPIC Experience!taught me!” It’s a larger-than-life moment you’ll never forget!__________________________The acronym EPIC is adapted andused with permission from a keynotespeech given by Dr. Leonard Sweet atthe South Carolina Baptist Convention,spring 2002.Dr. Sweet is a traveling teacher andpreacher. For more information, logonto acronym EPIC was modified byteachers in the Texas PasadenaIndependent School District at a staffdevelopment training facilitated bySharon Bowman in the fall of 2002.__________________________Author and traveling teacher SharonBowman helps educators and businesspeople “teach it quick and make itstick,” - fine-tuning their information-delivery skills and turning their passivelisteners into active learners.Sharon is a professional member of theNational Speakers Association (NSA)and the American Society of Trainingand Development (ASD). Over 70,000copies of her seven popular trainingbooks are now in print.__________________________ 775-749-5247 © 2003 Sharon L. Bowman. All rights reserved.