Training & Development For Dummies
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There are hundreds of alternative methods you can use to replace a presentation. Recognize that many of these methods usually take longer than a lecturette, but a well-constructed activity enhances learning because the participant experiences the learning by being personally involved.

Why would you use an activity anyway?

  • Activities are energizing.

  • Activities get people working together.

  • Activities promote learning by doing.

  • Activities provide you with a way to reinforce information.

  • Activities are motivational.

Thousands of activities, games, and exercises exist. Or you can create your own.

Presentation variations

Presentations refer to any method that gives information to the participants with less interaction than many of the other methods.

  • Panel: Participants, managers, customers, or top executives, provide a unique opportunity for an intimate discussion or a Q&A session.

  • Tour: Visit someplace in the organization where a host guides you through the information you need to know, for example, the corporate library, to demonstrate how to retrieve information.

  • Guided note taking: Create handouts that have spaces available to add information during a lecturette, watching a role play, or viewing a video.

  • Storytelling: Telling an event (true or fictitious) that has a moral or lesson, or demonstrates consequences. The punch line leaves the ­listener inspired, influenced, or improved, without explaining the ­learning point.

  • Debate: Two teams address two different sides of an issue to explore perspectives from both sides.

Experiential learning activities

Experiential Learning Activities (ELAs), sometimes called structured experiences, are in a category of their own. ELAs are activities that are specifically designed for inductive learning through the five-stage cycle associated with them: experiencing, publishing, processing, generalizing, and applying. ELAs are especially useful in a change-management situation, or when attitudes are an issue.


Demonstrations typically involve someone showing the participants a ­process or modeling a procedure.

  • Instructor role play

  • Field trips

  • Video, DVD

  • Magic tricks

  • Coaching

  • Interviews

  • Props


Reading refers to any method pertaining to interacting with the printed word.

  • Read ahead: Materials provided to participants to read prior to the session.

  • Letters to each other: Participants write letters to each other to provide feedback or as a summary of what each has learned in the session, or as follow-up after the session.

  • Story starters: Participants are given a partial situation and complete it practicing the skills and knowledge they are learning in the session.


Drama refers to methods that require the participants or the facilitator to act out a role.

  • Skits

  • Survival problem solving

  • Costumes

  • Writing a script


Discussion methods refer to two-way discussions that occur between participants and/or the facilitator.

  • Buzz groups

  • Round robin

  • Brainstorming

  • Nominal group technique

  • Fishbowl

  • Develop a theory


Cases generally refer to learning methods in which the participants are ­presented with scenarios requiring analysis and suggestions for improvement.

  • Case studies

  • In-baskets

  • Critical incidents

  • Sequential case studies

  • Problem-solving clinic


Art entails more creative methods involving drawing, design, sculpting, or other nonword events.

  • Portraits

  • Cartoons

  • Posters

  • Draw how you feel about _____.


Playlikes are learning methods that are similar to dramatizations but less serious and more open ended.

  • Role plays

  • Role reversals

  • Video feedback

  • Outdoor adventure learning

  • Improv

  • Simulations


Games refer to any board, card, television, computer, or physical event that leads to learning or review of material. A game requires a challenge, rules, and feedback resulting in a measurable outcome.

  • Crossword puzzles

  • Relays

  • Card games

  • Computer games

  • Any board-game adaptation

  • Any game-show adaptation

Participant directed

The method refers to situations where participants take the leadership role in the delivery of training to others, or the analysis of their own learning.

  • Social learning

  • Skill centers

  • Teaching teams

  • Digital storytelling

  • Self analysis

  • Teach backs

  • Journaling

  • Research

Participant events

Participant events refers to learning methods that have a specific placement in a training session.

  • Icebreakers

  • Energizers

  • Closers

As you peruse this list, you can see that with some adaptation almost all of these activities can also be used in your virtual ILT. Right? Some, such as videos and reading, can be used as preliminary work. Journaling, in-baskets, coaching, and self-analysis can be used as follow-up reinforcement. Most of the rest can, with slight adaptation, be used during the virtual classroom. Think Skype for a tour or prepping a couple of learners to complete a role play or a teach back.

Engaging participants every three to five minutes in a virtual ILT session seems to be the expectation.

Hey! What about gamification? Gamification uses game-based elements to motivate or engage people or promote learning. The “games” in this list may be the basis for that to occur. Gamification utilizes gaming elements to ensure a change in behavior and the transfer of learning to the workplace.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Elaine Biech is president and managing principal of ebb associates inc, an organizational and leadership development firm that helps organizations work through large-scale change. Her 30 years in the training and consulting field include support to private industry, government, and non-profit organizations.

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