Open Audience blog Musical Chairs: Putting the Fun into Learning and Engagement

Musical Chairs: Putting the Fun into Learning and Engagement

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I had been working with Open Audience in several face-to-face meetings, getting their support to facilitate breakout meetings or simultaneous language translations. Since lockdown, that partnership has moved to the online space and opened the door to innovative and creative approaches to building a journey of learning interventions.

What I learned from our in-person interactions – and this has been reinforced in the virtual world – is the symmetry between Perfectly Blended’s creative approach to solutions and audience engagement, and the way OpenAudience connects those creative elements through the technology for maximum audience engagement.  

I have found talking ‘at’ your audience and delivering slides full of information fails to resonate.

Instead, I look to establish a fun, engaging session. For example, if a client tells me they need their audience to understand the anatomy and workings of the heart by the end of the session, I will come up with ways to make this dynamic and to bring in fun and laughter, because that opens up our ability to learn and recall.

So, I might say to Leslie (Open Audience’s CEO), “I've got this idea about how we might move the audience between breakout rooms, and they have to add little bits to the heart diagram in a round robin. I want to move the audience from one room to the next every minute and each room involves doing something a bit different. And I want to include music.”

Since I know Leslie and his team come from that same place of creativity and curiosity, he will respond enthusiastically and put something together (in this case a virtual ‘musical chairs’ of sorts) that is both fun and looks professional.

Building on previous experiences

When I develop training sessions, whether in person or virtually, I look for ways to create metaphorical thinking and learning that draws on the individual’s previous experiences. It’s about building new knowledge on existing experiences and helping the learner to recognise comparisons between two seemingly different concepts.

Learning is an individual experience. Five people can watch the same video and come away with five different interpretations. All these experiences are valid and help to build knowledge. However, if the video doesn’t work, if it sticks or is glitchy, then the learner doesn’t get the experience and the opportunity to learn is lost.

That is why a good technology partner matters, someone with experience in the meeting space, who understands the role the technology plays in achieving the outcomes and is equally comfortable at facilitating a session, changing direction and adapting during a session and troubleshooting when problems arise.

The rush to virtual in the COVID-19 era has led to a surge in the number of technology providers offering digital solutions to connect to audiences.

Many of these organisations are simply focussed on selling a product, and unfortunately in my own space of training and learning development consultants that can also be the case.

That’s not how I work. For me, it’s about understanding the needs and then building a journey of learning interventions that will support those needs. From my experience, the same is true with Open Audience. It’s why we have built a strong, synergistic relationship that allows our audiences to learn and succeed at a time when so many are struggling to cope with lockdown and yet another Zoom or Teams call.

Lucy Philip, Founder, Director and Lead Consultant of Perfectly Blended, is a certified learning and development coach. With more than 20 years of experience in professional development, Lucy helps global organisations and individuals to develop their leadership and management skills. A nurse by training, Lucy spent more than 10 years at GSK, including many years as a coach and training manager and senior leader.