A mentor of mine once told me that “all learning is state-dependent”. Meaning, unless a learner is in the right “state” they are unlikely to engage in the learning process. So what is “state”? The dictionary says, “the condition of a person…” I think about useful states for learning as including – excited, interested, curious, relaxed, or intense. Not-so-useful states could be bored, tired, angry, or sad.
So any time I am not getting the behaviour I want, the first and easiest solution is to help the audience change state. Two simple things generate a state change – change of focus and change of physiology. Simple strategies include: a seat change, a pair share, a “water-in, water-out” break, a state change activity. Applying the “appropriateness” filter is key – make it relevant and respectful of your audience and the situation. Be mindful too that extreme introverts may find high energy state changes have the opposite effect to lifting their energy; it may drain their energy and cause them to shut down.
How else do we help our group to stay in a useful state? We effectively manage our own. Your state will “lead” your participants state more than any single other thing.
Being able to manage your state so that you are able to remain resourceful even in the most challenging of situations is clearly something that is of huge value wherever you work, whatever you do and whoever you are! There are many ways to do so. To get you started, here are 4 easy ways to help you manage your state:
Change what you are noticing, what you are focusing on and what you make that mean.
Change your body radically – Move, do anything that pushes different chemicals around your nervous system. Change your posture, stand tall, high and successful, not only will you look confident but you’ll feel more confident. Consider changing your facial expression too and your breathing, even the smallest amends will help you manage your state.
Change your internal dialogue or self-talk. You can change the content or the language of your mind chatter.
Lead the participants state using your voice. Your voice is a powerful instrument and you can use it to its best advantage by varying your tone, volume, speed, and timbre.