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Staged EnvironmentsThere is magic in every illusion show, but it’s not where you expect to see it. The real magic can be found in the extraordinary efforts magicians take to control their surroundings. Bycontrolling their environment magicians imply control over nature and by inference, the gift of supernatural powers. Through this implication, they influence the spectator.The same dynamic applies to other environments. Just as a restaurant’s dirty floor suggests an unsanitary kitchen and a messy waiting room implies a lackadaisical doctor, acluttered classroom suggests a lack of trainer focus. It also represents a wasted learning opportunity.
The Seating – The seating is the element of the classroom that the attendees physically touch.And yet, it receives little attention from trainers. You may not have control over the seating and tables that your trainees must use, but you can insure that they are clean and in good workingorder. If there are grease marks or food stains left over from a prior group, clean it up.
The Platform – Consider the area you intend to stand in and communicate from. When people look past you, will they see supportive materials or junk? Will your clothes blend into, or clash with, the background? Are electrical cables taped down or otherwise out of the way? Have you removed all non-supporting messages from your working area?
The Lighting – Just as theatrical lighting establishes a mood and tone, the classroom lighting will aid or distract from learning. The fact is that many conference rooms, especially in supposedly state of the art facilities have poorly designed lighting schemes. Often, the stage area is placed with little to no attention to lighting, resulting in an instructor whose face is in shadows cast by ceiling lighting. If you can change the location of your platform, place it where the lighting will pick up your face.
The Scenery – Few trainers would argue that they have too much time with their trainees and yet do not take advantage of every teachable moment, including the moments when a trainee looks away from the trainer. If the participant who looks away sees a pile of junk, the value of the instruction has been unintentionally trashed. The classroom should be alive with visual stimuli that support key learning points. The room should be set with food for the eyes.The Sensory Stimulates – Trainees absorb information through all their senses, not just sight.
The following should also be considered:• Touch: Items that relate to the learning without distracting from the instruction should be placed on the tables for trainees to touch during moments of tension. In addition, the room temperature should be comfortable; neither warm or cold, but comfortablycool. Studies have shown that the optimum temperature ranges between 66 and 72 degrees, but slightly on the cool side.• Smell: The classroom should give forth an attractive odor. A foul smell distracts attention. The opposite is also true. A pleasant odor aids learning. The smell of peppermint or lemon has been proven to enhance productivity and coffee can warman early morning learning room.• Taste: For centuries, people have regarded the breaking of bread as an important communal rite. When people eat together, they feel a sense of belonging.
See it through your trainees’ eyes. Sit in their seats. Pick up the mood of the room. Walk to and from the platform from as many angles as possible. Become one with it. In the eyes of your learners, the room is an extension of you. Stage your surroundings.This article is based on material found in Lenn Millbower’s books, Show Biz Training, Training With A Beat, and Cartoons for Trainers. All rights are reserved. Permission is granted to reprint this article with proper attribution toLenn Millbower and Offbeat Training®. Visit Lenn on line at www.offbeattraining.com.