May 31, 2007

Toys and candy, a speaker's best friends

One of my favorite things to do in a presentation is to put out toys and candy.

If the presentation is less interactive and not learning-focused, like a keynote, I might just put individually wrapped hard candy on the seats or pass around a tin at the beginning. Candy is a small and inexpensive gift to your audience that can perk people up and let them know that you're thinking about their comfort.

In a workshop setting, where people are expecting more interaction (and fun, of course), I like to use toys. I have a collection of mini Play-Dohs, mini Etch-a-Sketches, Silly Putty, Koosh balls, Slinkys and other toys that I put out on the desks or tables before a training.

The Corporation for National and Community Service spells out the benefits of using toys during training. Reasons to use toys include:

1. Toys create a fun and relaxed environment

2. Toys stimulate creativity and involvement

3. Toys meet the needs of diverse learners

4. Toys rechannel doodling habits

5. Toys serve as rewards, reminders, and incentives

I tell my participants that they are free to play with the toys during the session, but they don't get to take them home! You can always bring toys that your participants can keep, or use toys as prizes throughout the training.

I don't find the toys to be a distraction, and the people who are playing with the toys tend to be kinesthetic learners who learn more effectively when being active or using their hands. People who would otherwise be tapping their pens or fidgeting in their seats can make sculptures out of Play-Doh and still pay attention to the speaker.

I highly recommend using toys to add another dimension of fun, creativity and learning enhancement to your presentations.

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

marion chapsal said...

Loved this post, Lisa!
It feels like home.
It feels like home because I have 5 kids and just love to play and bake with them...and they adore sweets...

It also feels like home because ever since I started training , teaching, mentoring and coaching, I have been integrating playfulness, creative and interactive activities...and also M&Ms.
There's a terrific game you do with M&Ms!
And everytime I facilitate a game where there's a winner, guess what they win? Chocolate!!!
Makes me want to meet you to have fun exchanging!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Tell me more about your M&M game!

Olivia Mitchell said...

Funny that I've met both you. You would enjoy each other!


Lisa Braithwaite said...

Olivia, you are such a world traveler! Maybe Marion and I will meet someday. :-)

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