Why is ‘Connecting Before Content’ Important?
Facilitator Tips Episode 38

Connections Are Key


This week’s Facilitator Tips episode explores the value and critical importance of building and strengthening connections, or in other words, trusting and healthy relationships, among the members of your group.


<< Go to Episode 37   Go to Episode 39 >>


I’m not being rude, but it does not matter what content you are delivering – the science now confirms that the stronger the connections that exist among the members of your group, the more they can achieve.

Click the play button above to learn more about the science behind why connections are critical to the growth of your group.


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Useful Links & Resources


  • Science of Play & Connection – short article with lots of evidence-based research which supports the argument that connections are key.
  • A 32-Year Longitudinal Study of Child and Adolescent Pathways to Well-Being in Adulthood, Journal of Happiness Studies (sorry, link is forbidden) – by Craig Olsson, referenced in this video.
  • Power of Relationships at School – fascinating article about the power of developing strong, resilient relationships within a school community.


Video Transcript


Hi there and welcome to Episode 38 of the Facilitator Tips video series.

My name is Mark Collard, I work as an experiential trainer and an author, and today I want to focus on probably one of the most deeply held topics for me about connections and that connections are key.

Now I’ve been working in this industry for about 30 years, and I’ve had this long-held belief that group games and activities are a really powerful and attractive way to help people connect. And then, of course, that raises the question, why is that important. Well, because anecdotally I’ve always been able to see with the groups I’ve worked with that the stronger those connections the more that they could get done, the more you could amplify the results of whatever they were trying to get done.

But until recently I’ve never really been able to stand on the shoulders of science or research to actually prove that this was actually true, and now I can. And I’m holding notes because I want to be really clear that I get the study correct, because recently and this was in New Zealand where they surveyed 1000 adolescents, they brought out this longitudinal study of child and adolescent pathways to well-being in adulthood.

Let me say just in a brief word or two, the results were stunning. It was like a boost to me because I was able to stand on the evidence that connections were key. And this is what they found.

First of all, they wanted to investigate the relative importance of academic success to the well-being of an adult. They wanted to identify what where the most important factors, believing as we’ve all been told that if you study hard, get a good score at Year 12 or whatever your finishing school is, that will lead you to a well-paid job and success in life.

And longitudinally they’ve looked at these 18-year olds and studied them over the course of 14 years until they were 32, and this is what they found.

First of all, at one level they discovered that the ATAR score, the Year 12 score, the SAT score, whatever you call it, the correlation of success was 0.12 for a high score to being successful. And inversely was true, that if you had a poor SAT score at the end of Year 12, that didn’t mean you were going to be unsuccessful. So 0.12 was barely even statistically significant.

Here was the news. This was where the science was in. The sense of belonging, the connections that they formed, the ability to form and sustain healthy relationships as an adolescent was by far the most significant factor that led to success as an adult in terms of their wellbeing when they were 32. And the correlation, the statistics show the correlation was 0.62. So significant.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t be teaching the core subjects. Absolutely not. But the way we teach them, ways in which we can develop trusting and healthy relationships, investing in connections for these young people, building the sense of belonging is by far the most powerful, significant factor that will actually lead to their success and their adult wellbeing into life. If that doesn’t have every principal and teacher in this world stand up and applaud, I don’t know what is.

Now it’s not easy necessarily because it’s like turning a cruise ship around. It takes a long time, even after you’ve turned the wheel. But if you could focus on particularly in the beginning building those connections in small ways over time, that that will be life skills that will really benefit your students for the rest of their lives.

There’s so much more to be spoken of in this space, but I will put in the show notes that you can find at www.playmeo.com Episode 38 with a link to that study. And there are many, many other studies but this has been a focus in this particular episode.

If you’re new to these episodes, check us out. We’ve clearly got at least 37 other episodes and I know there’s many more coming as well.

My name is Mark Collard. Please reach out. Leave a comment, something that we could do that maybe would help you build connections in your classroom, corporate training room, sporting team, or wherever you are responsible for the wellbeing of groups. It’s been my pleasure.

Please share this with other people if that’s of interest to you.

Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Bye for now.


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