October 30, 2012

To Keep Nonprofit Audiences Engaged, Get Them Moving

I was in India this past summer to facilitate an intensive four-day training for Packard Foundation grantees working on family-planning issues. The curriculum covered a lot of territory on social media and online collaborations, but every day after we came back from a delicious Indian meal, the after-lunch slump would set in.

I planned for this by incorporating an after-lunch energizer that used movement to get people's brains going. Energizers are activities designed to awaken a sleeping audience or activate a jaded one. Energizers are typically done right after lunch and during mid-afternoon breaks, when energy tends to be low, but they can be done any time. The energizer can be connected to the content or just a movement exercise or stretch.

In India, I designed the first one to celebrate the local culture: It was called "Bollywood Moment." I asked colleagues from India what was the most famous Bollywood moment was, and they mentioned the well-loved movie, “Chaiyya Chaiyya.” So as participants came back from lunch, I had them do Bollywood dance moves. And to make it more fun, I awarded prizes.

It totally changed the atmosphere of the room, and people were ready to learn.

I had different energizers planned for after lunch on each of the training days.  On the last day, we made use of the beautiful three-story double staircase by having participants do a couple of laps up and down the steps.

I try to incorporate movement in all of my trainings but not just after lunch or during break times. There are many creative ways to have people move around while learning in training. For example, after you divide participants into small groups to work on a project, you can have them create wall posters and then do a walking-around debrief. Or speed-geek, which is similar to speed dating, but in this case you spend five minutes talking to each person about the content of his or her poster.

You can integrate movement right from the start. One of my favorite ways to do that is the human spectrogram, in which participants line up according to whether they agree or disagree about a topic related to the training.

What are some creative ways you have infused movement into your training sessions?