Consider this scenario. You’ve been asked to give an important presentation, but halfway through, you notice that you’re starting to get blank looks from several members of your audience. How do you get them back on board? A great way to refresh and engage your audience is with a role-play. Role-plays give participants the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned and identify potential road bumps that may occur.
Keep in mind if we ask our audience to do role-plays too often, we wear out our welcome. We need to do two things: 1) “frame” why they are doing the role-play and 2) disguise the activity. Here are various ways of presenting a role-play:
Satisfy their need to know what’s in it for them by explaining the “why.”
Visual Directions = Success
Visually outline the role-play activity so they are successful. Clear visual instructions are especially important for the first three role-plays.
Dogs vs. Cats
This is a way of describing people and groups using the analogy of household pets. Dog audiences love to do “get to know your neighbor by….” In contrast, cat audiences hate ice-breakers. They came to learn from the presenter. With cat audiences, any initial interactions with neighbors need to be done under the auspices of solid learning.
Alternate between groups of two and groups of three.
Often by the afternoon of the first or second day, the group becomes comfortable and might use the safe atmosphere to socialize instead of learn. Explain, “Brain research shows that our long-term memory is directly associated with the non-verbals of where we are seated and who we are seated next to. We will be moving to a new concept and want to create new pathways…so in just a second we will be saying good-bye to our neighbors. Take all your things and go meet a new person.”
Satisfy the audience’s cognitive part by distributing Post-its™ and asking them to make notes on them every 30-60 minutes or whenever a key concept has been covered. Explain to the group:
With these various role-play strategies, you’ll be able to keep your audience engaged and learning, while immediately putting into practice the skills you’ve taught them. Role-plays promote both individual and group confidence and competence in the information that you have given. As a bonus, at the end of the presentation, you’ll receive glowing comments about how your material was not only engaging, but also relatable.