AN INTERVIEW WITH L&D FACILITATOR PREETHI RAO AND PARTICIPANT PRISCILLA PRICE ON METALOG TRAINING TOOLS.
METALOG® training tools are multifaceted interaction activities and learning projects for indoor and outdoor use. Their simplicity and powerful effect are both engaging and fun. They involve all of the learner’s senses, allowing the user to truly experience learning topics such as communication, leadership, team dynamics and roles, to name but a few.
WHAT DO YOU MOST APPRECIATE ABOUT METALOG TRAINING TOOLS?
Preethi: “What I appreciate most is the ease of use as a facilitator. There are clear instructions in the facilitator guide, videos online to see how the activities run and all the activities come in neat, easy to carry packs that make the logistics a breeze! The activities are not overly complicated, and instructions can easily be given to help participants start off the activities. There are various debrief options given so that you can customise one activity to several different topic needs.”
Priscilla: “From the participants’ point of view what I appreciate most about the training tools was that they were so easy to understand. We all hear this term “death by PowerPoint”, but here, without putting up a single PowerPoint slide, the concept was explained so well. I love these tools because it makes the understanding of concepts so easy.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL THAT IS THE VALUE OF USING METALOG TRAINING TOOLS IN YOUR PROGRAMS?
Preethi: “Sometimes there are a lot of heavy concepts we need to deliver in programs. Like Priscilla was saying, traditional methods, can cause that ‘death by PowerPoint’ situation. It can get very heavy, boring, and monotonous for the participants. However, with the introduction of an activity like a Metalog training tool, which is very engaging, participants enjoy doing those activities. And suddenly, the concept almost becomes self-explanatory to the participants or self-realised. We do have to debrief them later to tie the concept together, but the learning happens very beautifully on its own.”
Priscilla: “I feel the same. When we put things into a presentation, you don’t know if participants absorbed it all. Traditional sessions are facilitator lead with participants occasionally offering examples or asking questions, but it’s up to the facilitator to drive the learning. Whereas with the Metalog tools, the session is driven by the participants, and I believe they understand the concepts better. This is the true value of the tools. The facilitator’s role is to help, observe and give instructions, but the understanding comes from the participants directly, and I think that’s more powerful.”
WHAT IS THE RESPONSE YOU’RE SEEING WITH YOUR PARTICIPANTS USING THESE TOOLS?
Preethi: “I think it’s amazing! I have run these tools across organisations, across levels, so whether it’s a bunch of CEOs, managers or new joiners, the enthusiasm and the sheer involvement of the participants is amazing. Everybody becomes a child as they excitedly put a puzzle together or building a tower. The entire experience is amazing for everybody and as facilitators as well, we feel involved in that excitement too. Participants really respond well to the activities.”
Priscilla: “I too felt that the response from participants was great. Preethi conducted an activity for us in our organisation and when she left, the feedback we received was, ‘Wow! I’ve never experienced anything like this. This is so good! Can you do this more often?’
I feel in regular training sessions you’ll have those participants who talk well and will contribute a lot, but not everybody does. With Metalog training tools, on the other hand, everybody participated, everyone felt like they had something to contribute to keep the conversation going. It was very inclusive and that was an interesting take away for me.”
Diving deeper into the aspect of involvement we asked Priscilla, if she felt the physicality of the activity levelled the playing field for all the participants. As it isn’t about who is the loudest, or knew the most about a subject, rather it required everyone to work, and work together.
Priscilla: “Absolutely! If you look at the activities that were brought to us, it needed everyone’s involvement, so everyone just got involved. We were hesitant at first, waiting for someone to take charge, but with each new activity we did, people started contributing on their own. Everyone felt empowered to speak up and share ideas. It’s all about teamwork rather than leadership.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE METALOG TRAINING TOOL? AND WHY IS IT A FAVOURITE?
Preethi: “For me, it’s definitely Tower of Power. It is one of my favourite tools, but I have used quite a few of them. There are so many activities and for each concept, or each idea that we want to present to the participants, there’s a specific activity available. I think they are all wonderful, but if I had to pick it would be HeartSelling and Tower of Power. With Tower of Power, it is all about getting everybody involved, the entire team pulling together, particularly when you have a large team. If there are 20 odd people, everybody’s involved in that activity for 20 minutes and they’re all engaged. You observe things like people making mistakes, but the team isn’t holding it against them. They’re more focused on – how do we move on, we’ve got to build the highest tower possible. So, the engagement, the forgiveness and the collaboration all come together beautifully. With HeartSelling it’s an activity where there’s a lot of negotiations, it’s almost like a marketplace that gets created. Many concepts come out beautifully. Negotiation, selling and influencing can be really dry topics, but with this tool the concepts come together beautifully. It can take about 45 minutes, but at the end of the day, you just need a short debrief and you’re done explaining or examining all the concepts and discussions.
Priscilla: “For me it was TeamSquared. We all got triangular pieces and we had to make a square out of them. What I loved about this, is it brought out people’s personalities. Some wanted to help, some would sit back and observe, and some wanted to get stuck into it. We had to build our own squares without verbal communication, so it brought out everyone’s personality clearly. You could relate to how they did their day-to-day work, how they work with others and how they work in the organisation. It was a great eye opener. I also loved the storytelling tool, Reality Check. It was a more verbal activity with the loudest and the quietest in the room showing their personality styles. These two activities were very powerful, as you got to see how people behave in the real world.”
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER TRAINERS AND DESIGNERS WHO MIGHT BE THINKING OF USING THESE TOOLS IN THEIR TRAINING?
Preethi: “A couple of things that need to be kept in mind. If you’re using an activity, think through what you want to achieve and what the message is that you want to drive home at the end. Decide where in the sequence of events you want to use the activity, before the concept, or after it, and how you want to bring the concept to light. Have powerful debrief questions too, otherwise an activity can just be a game that people play, and learning isn’t activated. So being clear about what is it that you want to achieve, how you will use the activities to achieve it and how you will bring it all together with your questions, is important to consider ahead of time.”
Priscilla: “I second that. If there’s no great debrief, it just becomes a game. It is very important to have very powerful debrief questions at the end. What I also loved was that before Preethi ran the session for us, she asked me what challenges I was facing with my team. She had that conversation with the stakeholder before she ran the activity so that she was more prepared and could direct the outcome and ask the right questions in the debrief. That allowed us to all have our own “aha” moments in the end as the concepts clicked. I feel that it is very important to first identify with the stakeholder, what their problem statement is, and then go in with your solution. These games can be used for a lot of concepts, so knowing what you’re using a particular activity for beforehand, is really important.”
“I also just want to say that you must invest in these tools. They are so powerful when it comes to explaining a lot of concepts that we’ve been struggling to put into a presentation and trying to teach.”
We’d like to thank Preethi Rao and Priscilla Price for their time and valuable insights from both sides of the training fence.