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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

Dots on the Name Tents

Updated: Mar 18, 2022


I am writing this on the plane from Shenzhen back to Shanghai. I have to travel quite a lot in Jul – 1 time to Shenzhen and 2 times to Beijing. Though it is a bit too much, it is always great to be in classes!!

During the class in Shenzhen, I tried out a new way to motivate the learners to talk. (I learnt this from my boss.) Whenever one asked a question or gave a comment, I will stick an adhesive dot on his / her name tent. At the end, the one who gets the most number of dots will receive a prize. I found this ‘sticky dot method’ very useful since it:

Motivates – Very simply, the more one speaks, the more likely he / she will get the price. But there is more. The trainer’s physical action in walking towards him / her and sticking a dot on the name plate is already motivating for most learners.

Reduces hesitation – Asians tend not to speak up in open occasions. The norm is that we should give chance to the others. And speaking too much can mean show off. The Asian learners think ‘if I speak too much, the others may think that I want to show-off’. The dot arrangement helps change the nature of speaking up. The Asian learners can now justify better speaking-up. We will think ‘It is OK to speak up cos I am just having fun.’ This is a subtle psychological factor.

Reminds the silent ones – By the end of the first morning, most learners would have some dots. Some have more and some less. If you have only a few or even none, it will show. As you look up to the name tents, you are reminded that you have not spoken much. This can serve as a gentle reminder to those silent learners. The trainer can also proactively leverage on this public information as well. The trainer can review the learning contract (which likely contains active participation) and say, ’if you have not participated as much as we agreed, I encourage you to do it for the rest of the program.’ With the dots, the learners know very subtly that they are the ones.

Reminds the trainer – With a simple scan over the name tents, the trainer can easily know where the passive learners are. He / she can then direct question accordingly.

Make the trainer move – As the trainer sticks the dots, he / she has to move around the room. This creates energy in the room. Of course, it also shows the disadvantage of this method – if the venue is big, it would be very tiring for 1 trainer to move around!!I found it better than the 'poker method'.

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