Getting Past Boredom: How ‘Training from the Back of Room’ helps Coaches

I grew up in a family where getting in front of an audience was routine, but even at a young age I discovered my enthusiasm for a subject may not automatically transfer to my audience. Leveraging voice inflection, hand gestures and humor only goes so far.

adult learning, training from the back of the room, brain science,
Training sessions lacking engagement?

There were times as a Scrum Master, trainer or coach when I failed to master the art of getting the audience engaged with the material. No matter how hard I tried, it was not uncommon to see some learners struggle with keeping their eyes open. If our goal is to leave our audience in a better place than we find them, then “talking them to sleep” is not the path we want to follow.

Adult Learning Principles

Using brain science to make training stick is just the tool I was looking for. Sharon Bowman developed Training from the BACK of the Room! – a body of knowledge that enables you to explore the most current “cognitive neuroscience” about effective instruction – how the brain takes in, stores, retrieves and uses knowledge. Her curriculum includes a book (she has several related books), a website, and the popular two day course.

Within Sharon’s content are six adult learning principles that beat talking our audience into a coma. Check these out.

  1. Movement trumps sitting
  2. Talking trumps listening
  3. Images trump words
  4. Writing trumps reading
  5. Shorter trumps longer
  6. Different trumps same

Adult learning, Training from the back of the room Agile ManifestoSharon shares an interesting thought, “How can we expect the people we teach to remember what we teach if we don’t know how they learn…” Understanding the brain science that forms the foundation of effective instruction is like understanding the rules of the road.

So, where do we learn these brain science rules? Fortunately, I was invited to attend a class called Training from the Back of the Room. This two-day class is packed with ideas on how to “Step aside and let participants learn”. I benefited from numerous takeaways. Here are a few.

  • We are not designing content, we are designing experiences
  • Adult learning involves the body as well as the mind
  • Learning is an act of creation, not consumption
  • Positive emotions and mental imagery improve adult learning

I highly recommend this class for Scrum Masters, coaches and anyone who engages with audiences. In the same way self-organization brings ownership of plans and outcomes to teams, learning to train from the back of the room enables audiences to own their own learning. Engaged audiences are learning audiences. That sure trumps talking them to sleep!

Click here to begin your journey into Training from the Back of the Room.

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