Experiential Learning – How It Can Enhance Your Next Speaking Event!

The concept of experiential learning is something that I don’t see a lot of people implementing in their talks, workshops or meetings and so I thought it would be a great topic to discuss!

I remember the first time I was taught an important lesson through a game/exercise and how impactful and memorable it was.

I was at an Offsite with work colleagues and we were split into groups and given Lego to assemble. With no real instructions or guidance, we huddled in our separate groups and quickly tried to piece it together until we had no Lego left.

However it wasn’t clear what it was we’d built once we’d finished. That was until the facilitator said that in fact we needed to collaborate with the other teams as we were building a bridge with the Lego and we needed all the pieces to bring it together.

The facilitator said this exercise showed we were very good at working in siloes and competing against each other, but not as good at looking at the bigger picture and working together for an even better outcome.

It was an observation that couldn’t be refuted and it really drove the point home. Simply telling us that “we needed to collaborate more” wouldn’t have had anywhere near the same outcome, or stayed in my mind for years to come.

Experiential Learning is learning through DOING, as opposed to learning through LISTENING.

Why should you be using Experiential Learning?

Well, you should consider using experiential learning because it creates:

More Engagement – Because it’s immersive, there’s no desire for your audience to tune out in your talks, workshops or meetings.

Enhanced Learning & Buy-In – If people figure things out for themselves, rather than you just telling them, they’re far more likely to buy-into and really learn what it is that you’re sharing.

Greater Retention – The biggest learning experiences we all have in life are those that are attached to active experiences.

If you are thinking of adding this into your next talk, here is what you need to know:

  • You can try two different types of experiential learning: Immersion (doing an experiment, exercise or game) OR Reflection (asking people to reflect on a specific topic or idea to create relatability)
  • Make sure you think about what exactly you’re trying to encourage people to understand or believe (do this ahead of time) and then complement it with a game or exercise
  • Plan how these interactions or reflections will play out! Have the time allocation planned as well as the logistics

Experiential learning is better done for longer talks, so if it is a 5-10 minute talk – reconsider it.

So, what are some classic examples of experiential learning you can use in a speaking event?

Here’s some inspiration!

🚩 A Memory Game – a great way to engage your audience and this way they will remember your talk as well (well at least the key learnings)

🚩 A Fun Experiment – an active way of bringing your audience into your talk as well as driving home your argument/conclusion

🚩 A Group Exercise – allowing others to interact with each other and bring your point to life

You really want to make it as fun and interesting as possible! Channel your inner child and you’ll be on the right track!

What are your next action steps if you want to make a start on this?

I challenge you to see how you can incorporate Experiential Learning into a talk that you do, a workshop that you hold or a meeting that you run, where you want a specific outcome.

  1. Identify – what it is that you want people to understand/believe
  2. Create – think about how you could get people to really experience what it is that you’re trying to get across
  3. Plan – make sure you plan out the logistics including how it will run, whether it will be done in one large group, small groups or individually and what you’ll ask them on reflection etc.
  4. Run – run the session and see how people find it!
  5. Retro – Reflect on how it went and determine if you would do anything differently if you were to do this again

Try it out and see for yourself how powerful this is at helping you achieve your outcomes!

If you have done this before, tell me how it went! I’d love to know what you did!


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