Here are four novel approaches to introduce yourself to the session topics in unexpected ways. (Note: You can purchase the following props at various online retailers and magic shops. In addition, check out Lucas's website, presentationresources.net.)
1. Slush powder
The visual presentation of a concept is more likely to stay with your learners than is a simple verbal presentation. As part of your introduction, use a magic prop called slush powder to illustrate how the training will fill a void in their knowledge. The powder instantly solidifies when it comes into contact with a liquid. Before class, put about a tablespoon of the powder into a small insulated foam cup and place a pitcher of water and a sharp pencil beside it. (The cup must be an opaque one that can be punctured with a sharp object.)
At a point in your introductory remarks, pick up the cup and say something like this: "Assume that this cup represents everyone in this session. There's an emptiness that we can fill today with information or skills to help you improve in [topic]." Pour cold water into the cup as you continue: "Our goal here is to fill you up and provide the knowledge and skills that will help solidify your understanding of [topic] - much like I'm doing with this cup." Let the gel solidify for a few seconds while you continue talking about the material that they'll take into their heads. Then turn the cup upside down as you explain that you want them to retain what they learn and take it back to the job. Finally, turn the cup right side up, pick up the sharpened pencil, and push it through the middle of the cup from one side to the other. As you do that, tell them this: "To accomplish our goals, we may have to punch a few holes in what you think you already know about [topic]." Remove the pencil completely to show that there is no leakage.
2. Magic light bulb
Introduce yourself, capture learners' attention, and open the topic of creativity with a magic light bulb. This prop is a light that works without electricity when you place its base in contact with a small piece of metal (a bit of aluminum foil or a coin). There also are accessory magic socket props that you can use with the light - without an electrical outlet. The single-socket version lets you pull a chain to turn on the bulb, and the double-socket unit lets you turn on a bulb in one socket while pulling a chain on the other socket. If you use one of the sockets, ask a learner to come up and pull the chain. This demonstration reminds students to let go of their preconceptions about the topic under discussion and to keep an open mind throughout the training session.
3. Magic coloring book
This classic magic prop has three sets of pages inside the colorful covers: blanks, pages with line drawings, and ones with the line drawings fully colored. Use this prop to suggest that learners have come to training with different amounts of topic knowledge or skills (blanks and line drawings) and to show how everyone's knowledge and skills will accumulate throughout the course. Display the book to the learners and fan through the pages, from the blanks through the outlines to the full-color drawings. As you finish the fanning, tell learners this: "Our goal today is to color your world so you leave, able to see the full spectrum of [topic] possibilities."
4. Change bag
Pique your learners' interest and curiosity - and show them this isn't going to be just another typical training session - with this magic prop. Use it to introduce both the topics and concepts to be presented during the course and the training objectives. Before class, prepare two sheets of flipchart paper. On one, list the training topics and concepts in random positions all over the page. On the other sheet, list the training objectives neatly and in order.
The change bag has two inside compartments (one of them hidden), so fold the sheet of objectives and slip it into the hidden part before learners arrive. When class begins, introduce yourself and display the sheet with the list of topics and concepts. Explain that you'll be covering these during the training. Point to the words and phrases as you briefly describe each one. Then say this: "We'll address each of these and more today. [Add any other banter you want to make your point.] But before we do, let's look at our learning objectives. This will require a little magic."
Hand the flipchart sheet with the list of topics and concepts to a learner and ask her to assist you by folding it (in the same way you folded the other one) and placing it in the bag's (empty) compartment. Say a few magic-sounding words and wave a magic wand (available online or at magic and novelty stores) over the bag. Reach into the hidden compartment and pull out the sheet of objectives. Ask a learner to unfold it. After attaching it to the flip chart or hanging it on the wall, explain how you'll address each objective.
Note: This article is excerpted from Energize Your Training by Robert Lucas.