Interactive training workshops are more engaging than boring lectures and are more effective than mere presentations done by a trainer. Group work is one of the main kinds of activities that can make a training session highly interactive and engaging and thus enjoyable and of high impact.
Here is basically how group work works:
- Trainer divides participants into groups.
- Trainer asks each group to discuss a specific topic and write down their thoughts in points.
- Trainer then asks each team to nominate one of its members to come and present the points of his team in front of all participants.
A variation would be to ask each team to send 2 or even 3 of its members to present the points written by the team. This is helpful in team building training where you want participants to practice collaboration and cooperation. In such cases, you must clearly state that both participants sharing the presentation have to share equally in presenting their team’s points. It is not acceptable that one participant goes ahead reading and explaining all the points while forgetting all about his colleague who is standing next to him and not leaving any points for that colleague to cover. The trainer must clearly state that this is not allowed. The trainer must state this before the teams start their presentations.
The time it takes each team to present their points is proportional to the number of team members giving the presentation. If you ask each team to send 2 of its team members to give the presentation this would take them more time than if you had asked them to send only one team member to do the presentation. Similarly, 3 members would take a longer time in presenting than 2 members even though they have the same number of points to present. This phenomenon can be used by the trainer to reduce or expand the time of the group work activity in order to manage the training session time.
Before the teams start their discussions, you can provide them with flip chart sheets to use for writing their points. You may even ask them to cut the sheets themselves from the flip chart and divide a single sheet into 2 or 3 parts and divide it on the other teams.
It is of great value that you ask the teams to sit in circles. As they start their discussions, if you find one of the teams not arranging their chairs in a proper circle go to them and guide them to do so. The seating positions during this activity have a very high and noticeable effect on the performance of a team. Sitting in a perfect circle makes it possible for everyone to participate and boosts synergy among team members creating what might seem like a sort of resonance.
I remember once that one of the teams got creative during their presentation and threw in a mini-play instead of a mere reading and explaining of the points they have written. A trainer should praise and encourage such creative initiatives.
The topic of discussion can be to reflect on a video just viewed by participants or to try and find answers for a question or solutions for a problem or just to list any kind of information the trainer asks them to list.
Group work is an activity that participants usually enjoy greatly and benefit from. Nevertheless, the trainer should take care to alternate between it and other forms of training so that participants do not get over-exhausted. Group work is usually a fundamental part of every interactive training workshop.
What kind of training program do you think group work would not be appropriate to use in?