Ever wonder how to get a group of adults to pay attention and stay engaged? Have you ever tried toys, crayons or games? You should, it can totally change the dynamics in the room … in your favor!
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly I can transform a room of “hostages” – i.e. adult participants in a training they didn’t exactly beg to attend! – into a room of giddy “vacationers” just by engaging them in a game. Or by leaving crayons and paper on the table. Or by putting Slinkys, squishy balls, Rubik’s Cubes and even candy in the middle of the table.
Talk about unspoken messages! Toys, games, and candy are the language of fun, of childhood, and they loosen people up. Studies have been conducted, showing that adults will be more open and even more honest when sitting in an environment that stimulates their inner child. Whether those studies are conclusive or not, I can tell you from my own anecdotal experience that adding elements of “child’s play” in a meeting, presentation, or group training sends the message that you expect your audience to have fun, to occupy their hands, to need stimuli, and that you’re okay with it.
Try it and see. You might just find a group of fully grown adults warming up to you a lot faster than you expected and a lot easier than usual!

Beth Levine