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TBR - Connecting your learners

This is the first of several short articles about some of my favorite things to do using ‘Training from the BACK of the room’ techniques.

Fast Pass

I remember walking in on the first day of my in-person TBR course ran by the amazing Sharon Bowman. Little did I know I was walking into a room of so many ‘Famous’ Agile people....

The first thing I remember was the message projected on the wall like this one...

The course itself hadn’t started, but you know... I sat with a few different people, and we talked about training. It was amazing. Not everyone had turned up yet, and yet the training had started without Sharon teaching us anything. This was my first experience of an activity called a ‘Fast Pass’.

What struck me was, that it wasn’t till much later that Sharon did the slide you would normally do first! (You know the one that normally has the title of the course and the name of the presenter.)

Absolute genius!

As a “Time Sponge” it allows people to turn up a little late, and not eat into any lecture segments. The idea of an activity like this (a priming activity) is that you connect the learners to something they already know about the topic, and each other.

I have to say I was a little nervous on the way into the event. I also know that when I'm feeling nervous I'm not the best at taking on new information. But this activity really helped increase my psychological safety two-fold.

1. It gave me an ideal opportunity to speak to new people and find out about them (and make new friends!)

2. It allowed me to start thinking about what it is we were here to learn about (even before we started)

Facilitator Benefits

I’ve used this lots of times over the years. Its not just for training, but for workshops, and even meetings. Its so versatile, and it has lots of benefits for you as a facilitator also...

  • Gives you a bit of extra space to setup if you are only allowed in the room as the session starts

  • Allows extra time for latecomers not to miss anything too important without having to make everyone else wait around

  • Allows you to get the room to get curious about the topic,

  • Gets people talking early, so they are more likely to feel comfortable to get involved throughout.


  • Try not to reference something they may not have knowledge of yet...

  • It doesn’t have to just be a chat, for example, you can get people to Draw, Sing or Mime something!

  • After your real introduction slide... it's nice to do a group share and see what sort of things people talked about.

Having some fun...

You can have some fun with it too if you really want to shake things up. (See 2 step fast pass below!)

You wont be surprised to learn that this went down a storm, and some of the dogs & films were amazing!

Want to learn more?

For lots more tools, tips, and techniques on building and running creative workshops, why not join sign up for “Training from the BACK of the room (Virtual Edition)” workshop here.


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