Tip #209: How to Avoid Overwhelming Participants

If you have read many of these Tips, you will know that I am a strong proponent of placing a variety of colorful kinesthetic objects on training tables. However, when participants came into a train the trainer class a few weeks ago, a few of them were overwhelmed by everything on the table.

I discovered this fact when I read the evaluations from the first day. So that evening, I removed almost everything from one table, left half of the objects on the second table, and left everything on the third table. Since the participants in this three day training class were told to sit with new folks the next day, my thinking was that they would choose to sit at a table that was more comfortable for them. Some did, and surprisingly, some still sat at a table with everything on it. I’m not sure what that means.

My intent in a train the trainer class is to expand the awareness of trainers to the needs of kinesthetic learners and a variety of ways to satisfy them.. This may, indeed, require that the trainers move beyond their own comfort levels. Sometimes, that comfort level is simply a belief that training should be a more formal situation where “playing”does not belong. Other times, that comfort level relates to their own learning preferences, which may not be kinesthetic at all. For some folks, all of those materials on the table seems like unnecessary “clutter.Ó

In other, non train the trainer classes, my intent is to provide sufficient stimulation for the kinesthetic learners. I always tell participants that they can feel free to remove materials from the table if they find it distracting- and sometimes, they do.

So, I have a question for you. I really want my participants to feel comfortable and not overwhelmed. I am thinking that I should change my approach so that I always set up the tables so that 1/3 have everything on them, 1/3 have half of the kinesthetic objects on them, and 1/3 have no kinesthetic objects on them. That way, people can gravitate to the place they feel most comfortable- yet they can notice that other participants may become actively engaged in using the pipe cleaners or clay.

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