I had a discussion about the book Quiet Power by Susan Cain with my daughters’ ballet teacher early this week. This book is a follow up to Cain’s powerful book Quiet, which takes a look at being an introvert in a world that favors extroverts. Quiet Power is a look at the secret strengths of introverted kids. Cain sees extroverts as people who are energized by the external world and introverts as people who are energized more by their internal world.
During our discussion, the teacher and I talked about the dynamics in this first-grade ballet class and how she is fostering the kids’ skills development that she weaves into her classes each week. As I listened to the methods she has developed over years of being a teacher, she admitted that because of Quiet Power she realized she had inadvertently been a bit more accommodating her more extroverted students than her introverted students.
Class participation is important for engagement. In ballet class, the teacher has many moments where she asks her class if anyone remembers the French name of the movement they learned the week before, or if someone can demonstrate a series of movements. While it is important for students to have the opportunity to recall and perform, it tends to be the same nine or ten students who volunteer each week.
Does training favor certain traits?
Similarly, in training, we ask our participants to engage and contribute, and I truly believe that is the best way to learn. However, if we only create interactions that favor one trait over the other, we are missing participants. If all presentations are meaningful and engaging, we must engage everyone. I think it is easy to fall into the trap of engaging with participants who raise their hand or are the first to talk in a group discussion. As trainers, we need to remember that engagement and outgoingness are not synonymous.
Carl Jung said that introversion and extroversion is a spectrum. If that is true, I fall smack in the middle of that spectrum. All facilitators and participants also fall in that spectrum. Training rooms should be a safe place for all people to learn. We need to strike a balance that everyone will find comfortable. Let’s take a look at a few energizing activities that can balance training for all participants, no matter how they find their energy.
External Energizing Activities
- Start with a silly group icebreaker
- Have a large group discussion such as one of these three group discussions
- Allow participants to interact with everyone in the room with activities like speed dating
- Get your participants to work together to build a puzzle
- Ask your participants to have panel discussions about the subject matter.
Internal Energizing Activities
- Open your training with The Messy Start instead of a traditional icebreaker
- Have the facilitator tell a compelling story
- Allow for smaller group and pair activities like the Newlywed Game
- Ask participants to respond to questions with Kahoot or Poll Everywhere
- Ask your participants to spend some time reflecting and journaling
How do you balance your activities to allow everyone to get the most out of your training session? What’s your take on energizing activities? Let’s talk about it in the comments!