Which virtual activities should you be using to help people learn?

Several weeks ago, I asked readers to share how confident they felt in delivering virtual presentations. This was the result:

Over the past week we offered a series of webinars to share some thoughts on how to more effectively convert programs from in-person to virtual delivery and hundreds of Train Like A Champion readers participated in these webinars. From conversations that took place during these webinars, it appeared that one of the biggest sources of anxiety for people entering the world of virtual training delivery is their unfamiliarity with which virtual tools to use, when.

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292 Training Activity Ideas For Your Next Workshop

“I just wish I could have access to your training activity library.”

We spent the summer beta testing a tool that can help anyone design a training session in under five minutes. Soapbox is the name of the tool and it will hit the market in about two weeks (if you’d like to sign up to be notified when it’s available, click here).

One of the most common pieces of feedback we received from our beta group was that they’d simply like access to our library of training activities. We listened to that feedback and in this post, I’ve included links to almost 300 different training activities.

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4 Activities for Group Problem Solving

Chances are that if you’re tired of your learning activities then your learners are too. Here are four application activities straight out of Soapbox to try as your next problem-solving activity. 

Overcome Barriers

This group problem solving activity works best in situations where you have multiple barriers that need to be overcome that are prohibiting your team from reaching their goal. This is a group activity with a small competitive flair and works well for both small (less than 10) and large (75+) group sizes.


Advanced Preparation:

  • Prepare three flip charts with headings: Easy (1 point), Medium (3 points), Difficult (5 points).
  • Prepare a list of problems/barriers to be overcome and decide what category (easy, medium, hard) each problem should be assigned to.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Arrange participants into small groups.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes and have group members brainstorm REALISTIC plans to mitigate as many barriers as possible.
  3. At the end of 10 minutes, have group members tally their scores.
  4. Ask groups to share their scores. The team that mitigated problems and totalled the highest score wins. 
  5. Spend time circling the room having each group share the problems they selected and their applicable solutions.
  6. As solutions are shared, ask some or all of the following questions:
    • What risks accompany your solution?
    • Do we have the resources to carry out the solution that you are proposing?
    • How does this compare to another solution proposed by a different group?

Visual Problem Solving Activity

This group problem solving activity allows participants to create a visual picture to help them sort through data to solve a problem. It is best suited to situations where there is a lot of data to be sorted through which influences both the problem as well as the solution. It is important to keep in mind that this is an activity that is best suited for smaller groups where you want participants to brainstorm their thoughts independently.


Advanced Preparation:

  • Identify your problem and gather all relevant data that participants will need.
  • Arrange the room so that each participant will have a workspace.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Have each participant write the problem to be solved somewhere on their flipchart paper. 
    • This could be something like, “What is killing customer service?” or “Why is employee satisfaction dropping?”
  2. Tell participants that they have 10 minutes to try to solve this problem given the data that you are providing. 
  3. Ask participants to use pictures, charts, words, or any visual representation that makes sense to them. 
  4. Tell participants that like a detective solving a murder, they are only to use facts and to not assumptions. 
  5. Start a timer and allow participants to begin their work. 
  6. At the end of the given time, call attention back to the large group.
  7. Ask for each participant to explain some of the highlights from their posters.
  8. Ask each participant some or all of the following questions:
    • Do you believe you have solved the problem?
    • Do you feel that you have reached a dead-end?
    • What poster from the group stands out to you? Why?

Diagnose the Sickness: Group Problem Solving Activity

patient chart for group problem solving activity

In this group problem solving activity, participants assume the role of a doctor to diagnose the sickness (aka: problem) in a given situation. It is ideal for situations where you may have multiple factors contributing to your problem. This activity is best suited to groups of less than 50 participants.


  • Gather data that is relevant to your situation and make enough copies for each participant.
  • Make enough copies of the Patient Chart worksheet for each participant to have their own.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Tell participants that they have just graduated from medical school and are now doctors. Today they will be examining a patient and will need to diagnose their problem and provide a remedy. 
  2. Pass out the Patient Chart worksheet to each participant. 
  3. Point out the information that participants will need to fill out on the Patient Chart worksheet to diagnose the sickness. 
    • Patient: Who or what are you examining?
    • Symptoms: What is the data showing? 
    • Diagnosis: What is wrong/What’s the problem?
    • Remedy: What solution do you suggest? 
  4. Provide participants with the data they will need to examine and ask them to begin working. 
  5. At the end of the designated time, ask each participant to share their Patient Chart with the group. 
  6. Summarize the findings by identifying trends and connecting the participants’ comments to the topic at hand.
  7. Answer any questions that may be outstanding.

Brainstorm Solution with Voting Dots

voting dots for group problems solving activity
Voting dots are a great fit for group problem solving or prioritizing

This group problems solving activity allows participants to quickly brainstorm solutions to a problem and to vote on the best solution. It is best suited for situations where you have a single problem and there are a variety of potential solutions. This activity can accommodate a small or large group up to 75 people.


  • Flipchart
  • Markers
  • Voting dots (those colorful dot stickers sold in the office supply section).

Advanced Preparation:

  • Create a two-column table on a flipchart. Title the left column “Solutions”, and the right column “Votes”.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Distribute yellow and green voting dot stickers to participants.
  2. Ask participants to call out 8-10 solutions to the problem. List these solutions on individual rows in the left column of your chart.
  3. Ask participants to review the items on the flipchart.
  4. In the voting column (the right-hand column), ask participants to place a:
    • Green voting dot next to the solution that is their first choice.
    • Yellow voting dot next to the solution that is their second choice. 
  5. Note any trends that emerge. For example, you may see clusters of a particular colored dot.
  6. Ask some or all of the following questions:
    • Is the most popular solution realistic and feasible given our time and resources?
    • Is there reason to believe that the most popular solution could yield negative results or unintended consequences?
  7. Determine the solution that was the most favored and one or two solutions that would make a strong backup plan. 

Love what you’re seeing? Soapbox is packed full of group problem solving activities just like these and many others to add creativity and ingenuity to your training. Sign up for a demo to learn more.

An Anchor Activity in Every Presentation

“If we’re running short on time, I’ll typically cut the anchor activities and jump right into the content.”

I was leading a train the trainer workshop and some of the people who were using our curriculum were sharing tips and tricks for how to facilitate a session, especially when the curriculum was so packed and it was so easy to fall behind.

I cringed. 

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Training Handouts: Essential to Training Design

Recently I was asked to facilitate a webinar on how to create better training handouts. I hesitated initially because I’m not a graphic designer. Then a thought struck me: graphic design may lead to prettier handouts and training manuals, but instructional design leads to more effective and engaging handouts and training manuals.

If you have 45 minutes and would like to see a recording of the webinar in its entirety, here is the link. During the session, I discussed the following five mistakes that many people make when distributing training handouts to participants: 

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Why does it matter how long it takes to design a presentation?

When it comes to designing an effective presentation or training program, there are some fundamental questions that need to be asked.

  1. What will success look like? (Specifically, what will success from the participants’ perspective look like?)
  2. How much time will it take to put together the presentation?
  3. Will investing more time to put together the presentation mean that it will be a better presentation?

A recent ATD study suggested that it takes between 28-38 hours (on average) to develop one hour of training. The amount of time spent on presentation design matters for several very important reasons.   Continue reading

3 Principles for Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Last month I had an opportunity to write a 20-page booklet for ATD entitled PowerPoint: Your Co-facilitator.

Powerpoint Your Co-Facilitator - effective powerpoint presentations

Since then, a number of friends and colleagues have asked me to boil the booklet down into the top five or ten tips that lead to effective PowerPoint presentations. As I reflected on that question, I think there are three guiding principles that can make any PowerPoint deck better. And these principles have very little to do with conventional advice such as “bullets kill, so eliminate bullet points” or “only use three lines of text, no more than 8 words per line, and no smaller than 36 point font”. My principles have little to do with the need to hone your graphic design skills, either.   Continue reading

20 Training Activities in a Simple Training Model

Training activities
can be fun. Training should be engaging. Training must be meaningful.

I have been asked to design many training modules and have worked on several teams that value the fun aspect of training over the other two aspects I mentioned. I like fun training as much as the next person, however meaningful and engaging training is paramount in training designing.

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Effective PowerPoint Checklist: Is Your PowerPoint Good?

I’ve been working with a number of presenters to help them develop more effective, engaging presentations for upcoming conference or training sessions. While PowerPoint should never be the focal point of a presentation, effective slide design is important for those presenters who choose to use PowerPoint in their sessions.

To help presenters determine whether their slides are any good, I put together the Effective PowerPoint Checklist to help them perform a self-assessment.    Continue reading