Overall Rating: 4 stars
"Ninety activities that have been conducted by the best trainers in our profession are all gathered here."
Here's a nice collection of standards from familiar names. Some of the contributors are pretty well published, such as Thiagi, Bob Pike, and Don Kirkpatrick. Others we see on the lecture or consulting circuit, but less in print, and it's good to see them here, such as Ann Herrmann-Nedhi, Darryl Sink, and Steve Sugar. It's a surprise to see Jim Kouzes and Edward DiBono here, and there's even an appearance by one of the fathers of the activity book itself, Edward Scannell. Their submissions are, in fact, world-class, representing many of the best, and most surefire, activities out there.
The book breaks into two sections: "Training and Consulting" offers exercises arranged by workshop topic, such as team building, conflict, and customer service. The “Training Tools and Skill Development” section provides activities for presentation and public speaking, icebreakers, and supporting transfer of learning. An excellent feature, absent from many "activities" books, is the insider's tips from those experienced at using the items. From rehearsing (always a good idea) to tweaking to keeping an activity on track, experienced voices offer guidance in making the activity a successful learning experience.
"90 World-Class Activities by 90 World-Class Trainers" is very good, and a new trainer looking for a single book of activities would do well to go with this one. But here’s a caveat, especially for those new trainers: An activity is only as good as its facilitator. Know the exercise inside and out, practice it with others to get a sense of how it really flows and what kinds of responses and questions and reactions participants might have. And remember: The fact that you are new does not mean your learners are. Take time to find out what kinds of activities your organization, and your predecessors, favored. I go to lots of training, and I believe I might flee screaming before sitting through the old "tell us two true things and one false thing about yourself" activity again. The novelty of that one wore off 10 years or so ago; it’s often inexcusably badly facilitated; and it does not work with every group (police officers, for instance, are not good at making up lies, and I believe this is a good thing). Not one but two variations of this activity appear in this book. There's nothing wrong with using an old standard; just remember that what's new to you may be old hat to them.
Those interested in making training more active and engaging, and getting out of the old lecture box, also might want to take a look at the fabulous second edition of Mel Silberman’s "101 Ways to Make Training Active" (Pfeiffer, 2005).
Buy 90 World-Class Activities by 90 World-Class Trainers.
Jane Bozarth is learning coordinator, N.C. Office of State Personnel/HR Development Group, Raleigh, NC.