4MAT: Free the Hostages


Last week, a participant in one of our 4MAT Train the Trainer courses shared her frustration in engaging learners who did not want to be in the training experience. We affectionately began to refer to these participants as “hostages”.

How can we free the hostages to participate fully in the learning experience? Every  shift in behavior begins with a shift in belief. To engage non-engaged learners, we have to shift the belief that there is no value to be gained from the experience. This will only come through personal experience. Simply telling a hostage, “Trust me, this is going to be great”, won’t cut it.

Here are some of the ideas our 4MAT trainer group explored:

1-Define what “value” is to the learner-allow the learners to define expectations and determine what is of interest to them around the topic

Expectations exercise-elicit expectations and design a wall-size mindmap that illustrates common themes.  Link the participant’s expectations to the agenda for the program.

What’s Your Question? Ask participants to answer the following: “If you could explore only one question around this topic, what would it be?” or “What’s the most important thing we should be talking about today?” Link the answers to the program agenda.

2-Engage the learner in a meaningful exploration around the issues that are relevant to them

-Determine the concept of the content. Engage the learner in an exploration of the bigger concept. Think simulations, dialogue on past experience, story-telling and pair shares around provoking questions. At this point, you are exploring the bigger idea, not the content.

The first part of the 4MAT Cycle, Engage, focuses on how to create this experience. When it is done well, the learner sees the personal relevance of the content and is eager to move into content exploration.

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