October 05, 2010: Is it safe?
If they're worrying about having attention called to them, or being tricked or embarrassed in front of others, they won't feel safe and they won't be able to learn. If they think they'll be called on to speak, forced to participate in exercises, or even asked their opinions, they won't feel safe and they may not show up at all.
Meeting planners and educational mavens can argue all they want about the best ways to learn. But if people don't feel safe - and worrying about being forced to do things they don't want to do makes them feel unsafe - they won't be able to learn.
Our adventurous colleagues may jump at the opportunity to engage in tasks that are daring and unpredictable. The unknown fascinates them. They view interactive exercises as challenges and exciting new experiences. They don't worry about being manipulated or made to look foolish.
They don't - or won't - understand, though, that learning environments of that type are threatening to many, many of our fellow professionals.
So, save the creative, edgy stuff for crowds that love to play. But let everybody else watch from the sidelines, if that's what they prefer.