At one point, it must have been around 2007, we did a large scale evaluation among ex-participants of our training courses. The question we asked them was: which parts of our training course have you found most useful? We were somewhat surprised when we we looked at the results of that evaluation survey. The clear result was that all parts which involved practicing were seen as most useful; practicing with other participants, with us as trainers and with a live-client. But that was not all that the survey revealed. It also showed that a disappointingly low percentage of the ex-participants had found the presentations about theory, which we used to do at the beginning of our sessions, useful.
After getting this feedback we have changed a few important things in our training courses. For one, we have put much more emphasis on practicing and a lot less on presenting. Also, we start our training sessions differently. We do this by what we have come to call getting-into-it exercises. Within one or two minutes after starting the session we ask the participants to form pairs with another participant whom they're curious about. We ask them to have a conversation which is related to the topic of the training course. First, one of the two will start to tell something, in about 5 minutes. After that, it's the other person's turn. Some examples of questions we may ask them in these getting-into-it exercises are:
- Tell each other about a gratifying moment you have recently experienced in you work
- Tell each other about some progress you have recently made in something which is important to you
- Tell each other about a conversation you have had recently had which you were satisfied with
- Tell each other about something you have tried and which went well