Experiential Training Activities have been proven to speed up the process of learning and change for both groups and individuals. Physical, emotional, and intellectual involvement in change is the core of experiential education. The learn-by-doing model, used more and more frequently by corporations and universities, can stimulate fresh approaches to problem-solving, foster creative thinking, and facilitate more effective teamwork. Retention studies have shown that we remember only 20% of what we HEAR, 50% of what we SEE, but 80% of what we DO! The ability to experience learning in a supportive environment with structured games and activities designed for maximum impact and growth can create shifts and breakthroughs as well as lasting change in personal and professional development.

Outward Bound, the leader in experiential training and development, uses the following models to enhance learning-by-doing....

The Kolb Action Learning Cycle identifies the four stages of experiential learning that groups go through as an on-going cyclical process:
1 – DO: Engage in the activity/Take action
2 - REFLECT: Think about and reflect upon the experience.
3 - DEVELOP: Form new ideas, concepts, theories and an action plan
4 - TEST: Implement the action plan: Do
Continuous learning and improvement can occur both individually and withina group by following this learning cycle.

For maximum learning potential, for each activity it is best for the leader to follow the following three-step model:
1. BRIEF: Explain the rationale and set-up of the activity for the group, including establishing ground rules, goals and expectations
2. ACTION: Do the Activity
3. DE-BRIEF: Discuss the group process. including interactions, communications, conflicts in this way:
What? Describe what happened in the activity
So What? What were the Learnings? Re-learnings? Insights? Awarenesses?
Now What? How will you apply what you learned to your professional/personal life?

When designing a team-building workshop it is best to take into consideration the natural and predictable stages of group development: Forming, Norming & Performing, Storming, and Un-forming. Any workshop needs to begin with Forming activities (Get Acquainted/Name Games) and end with Un-forming (Closing) activities. Norming/Performing activities can be selected to address the identified issues/goals of the group such as trust-building, effective communication, leadership/followership, values clarification, diversity, creativity/continual improvement, collaboration, decision-making and more. Storming occurs at some point in any group and is an opportunity to learn conflict resolution and problem-solving skills/strategies. It's possible that Transforming will occur with creative and synergistic groups!
Closing activities (Un-forming) are essential to help groups capture learnings/insights, to facilitate applications to professional/personal life, and to allow positive disconnection from the group.

Studies have shown that experiential education and training helps people learn faster, shift perspective, and fosters "aha" moments. We also know that experiential activities help change neural pathways in the brain, which fosters increased self awareness and personal growth. Children learn by playing. Playing tends to be forgotten in adulthood and dismissed as silly and unnecessary. Playing is experiential learning at its best; it promotes creativity, helps learning through "mistakes", and increases synergistic teamwork. Playing fosters fun which is learning by doing, being "in the zone", eliminating performance anxiety and fear of failure.

Some well-known and respected people knew the value of play and doing long ago:

We learn more about a person through an hour of play or games than a year of conversation

Everything we have learned in life we have learned by playing
Julio Olalla

We do not quit playing because we grow old – we grow old because we quit playing.
Oliver Wendall Holmes

True learning always takes place in a spirit of joy and abandonment.
Maria Montessori

What I hear, I forget;
What I see, I remember;
What I do, I understand

Do It and Understand!
Christopher Roland

Do or Do Not - There is no Try
There is only DO

The only man who never makes a mistake is the one who never does anything.
Theodore Roosevelt

Author's Bio: 

As a Personal and Professional Coach Laurie draws upon her (over 25) years of experience as a teacher, trainer, and author. She has led workshops and written extensively on Responsible Risk-Taking and Self Esteem Building having developed her own unique systems: Building Self Esteem with the 8-A System and Taking Responsible Risks using the 8-R's of Risking. Seen as an expert on risk-taking for personal growth, Laurie was recently interviewed (viewed at her website) on WBZ-TV Sundays with Liz where she was interviewed about Women & Risking. She has published many articles, ebooks, and a book chapter on risk-taking and self esteem, many of which can be read in her newsletter archives on her website.
Laurie's expertise in facilitating team-building and leadership trainings comes from her over 20 year's experience as an instructor for Outward Bound Professional programs and for the Appalachian Club's Mountain Leadership School. From these experiences she has created a manual describing over 100 different team-building games and initiatives.
Laurie has also led workshops on Career Planning/Job Searching, Retirement Planning, Assertiveness Training, Conflict Resolution, Effective Communication Skills, Stress Management, Attracting What You Want into your Life, Coaching, and much more. She has also written about and led teleclasses and eCourses on many of these topics.
Laurie is a graduate of Coach University, a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), a Certified Teleclass Leader, and a Certified Retirement Coach (including the RSP assessment tool: Retirement Success Profile.
Laurie has been coaching for over 10 years utilizes all her experiences and knowledge to support her clients in taking responsible risks in order to build their self esteem to create the life they want: one filled with passion and purpose.
Fluent in Spanish, Laurie provides coaching and training in Spanish.