Posted on: February 15, 2016
Author: Ken Brown

Part 3 of 3

Number 3 on asphalt by HebiFot on PixabayI covered pre-course engagement in week one and how to maintain the energy and learning in your course in week two. Let’s review two more engagement and learning event techniques as well as how to keep your attendees soaking up the knowledge from your course.

Phase 10. Competition

Competition is completely simple to do and, when you facilitate it properly, very powerful. Do it early and often.

The EMU Experience Strategy:

Any activity you design can be made into a competition. I once used presentations of individual slides as a team competition - each member of a team would present one (1) slide, followed by the same slide presented by someone on the other team.

EMU Experience Tug O WarMyself and the other two “judges” provided feedback, gave the teams an opportunity to regroup, then had them present once again. Even though these were colleagues, the way they tried to one-up each other was awesome. And their enthusiasm elevated everyone’s delivery and what they took away from the activity.

Worried about properly motivating your participants? You brought chocolate with you, right? Let that be the reward. You don't have to give away iPads, $20 bills or free consulting hours to make competition work.

Just the base nature of competition - there's a winning team and a losing team – is what makes this work. Don't you dare play the mercy rule here and give everyone a trophy! Make them earn it.

Phase 11. Mind Map

This is a staple in how I move toward the end of each of my workshops. And it's a great learning opportunity for your participants.

The EMU Experience Strategy:

For me, the Mind Map is the final activity of the day. With all notebooks closed, I group my participants into teams of 3-5, make them stand at a large 25” x 30” wall sheet and give them the following task:

Write down everything you remember from today's training.

Ken Brown's EMU Mind MapWith no notes, they only have their team members to rely on. It's a fun and powerful exercise that tells you a lot about what knowledge your participants are leaving your course with. There's a lot of discussion in the groups as they are essentially teaching one another one final time. And that’s the point: this is one final opportunity for the participants to learn from one another.

How the exercise plays out can vary, and you can certainly be creative with it. My approach has evolved from a straight mind map (as I described above) to a version that emulated theI'm a Mac/Facilitator and I'm a PC/Presenter TV ads by Apple to the current iteration, Graffiti wall.

The activity ends with all participants standing around one mind map as that team explains what they have captured. Then the entire class moves to the next mind map, that team explains, and so on.

After the last Mind Map, we are all still standing, which leads us into the...

Phase 12. Close

This follows right after the Mind Map and is a really unique way to end the course. I execute this pretty much the same way it was taught and modeled to me by Becky Pike Pluth, President and CEO of The Bob Pike Group.

The EMU Experience Strategy:

For the Close, everyone forms a large circle away from the tables and chairs. You, the trainer, are holding a stress ball or some object that can be easily tossed around the circle. You pose a Next Steps question, something like:

"Based on what you learned in this course, what's one thing you are going to do differently when you get back to work?"

The one rule is that you can only speak when you have the ball. You look for someone who is ready and you toss the ball to him or her. That person speaks and then tosses it to the next person. When everyone has given his or her answer, you get the ball back so that you can formally close the course.

To close the course:

  • Thank them for their time, attention and participation.
  • Reiterate 1-2 key things that they can now do that they were unable to do at the start of the course.
  • Give them a final word of encouragement, applaud and send them on their way.


Until you do this activity, you just have no idea how cool it is. It's an engaging, memorable and unexpected way to end your course. It’s completely easy to execute. And it just might give you chills.

Phase 13. Post-Training Follow-up

Ah, welcome to the black hole of post-training efforts, one where few companies dare to venture.

The EMU Experience Strategy:

For the first month after your training course, offer a weekly Remember when we talked about___ email. Pull from your most important takeaways and revisit 3-5 of those in these weekly emails. Set this flow up once and you'll have it ready for your future iterations of your training course.

After the first 4 weeks, push out your communication strategy to twice a month. For these emails, pose 1-2 practical scenarios and how those could be handled based on what was learned in your training course.

Finally, ask your participants to send or post their Success Stories. If they've had a success as a result of your training course, give them a way to send or post videos. Collect those Success stories and post them as testimonials for your course.

There you go. 13 engaging, memorable and unexpected strategies that you can apply to your training course today. You are now that much closer to delivering The EMU Experience to your participants.

EMU Experience 13 Phases Summary


About the Author

Ken Brown, Chief EMU WranglerAs Chief EMU Wrangler at The EMU Experience, LLC, Ken helps learning professionals deliver engaging, memorable and unexpected learning experiences. By teaching practical techniques to purposefully increase student engagement, along with methods that incorporate creativity into the design and delivery process, Ken will help you create a learning experience that is engaging, memorable and unexpected. 

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