For most of 2020, I have focused on designing and delivering a bunch of virtual presentations, from highly-interactive fun & games to highly-polished slide presentations.
Happily, as Australia started to ease its lockdown restrictions, more and more in-person training programs started to appear on my schedule. With a recent student program fresh in my mind, here are five lessons I have learned operating within the (new) COVID19-normal world:
1. Distribution of Props
I quickly learned as I watched my group step forward to grab a playing card I had wanted to distribute to them (ie my normal way of accomplishing this task,) that this was not a good idea. The potential for touching was too high not to mention the very real possibility of each person touching more than one card in their pursuit. I discovered it was better to spread the props (cards in this case) very well part from one another to prevent any inadvertent touches. FYI, you can read a recent post about the safe use of props here.
Just make them bigger and wider apart. Activities like Key Punch, The Maze and Over There can all be easily adapted with a larger boundary to keep participants spaced at least 1.5 to 2 metres apart. And for those activities that do not ordinarily require a boundary, add some to guide the movement of your group, eg ask people to share from within a series of hula-hoops you have placed on the floor.
3. Extra Everything
Adhering to certain COVID19 safe protocols will absorb a little bit of extra time, so plan accordingly. Bring extra face-masks for those who forget to bring their own, or are required to change it for whatever reason. And carry extra props so that it is possible for your group to not share them. For example, as built into the name of Ice-Breaker Question Exchange, I would ordinarily ask participants to swap cards with an existing partner before they meet a new partner. Now, I supply my full complement of 200 question cards and place them on the floor or table (well spread) and ask each participant to discard their current card (in one pile) and select a new card from the unused pile. I employe this strategy for all activities that involve the use of cards, eg UBUNTU Cards. For the record, I then sanitise or store these cards and not re-use them for at least 2 weeks.
For those activities which may prompt projected or explosive forms of communication between partners or small groups – for example, One Two Three – be sure to ask each person to stand well back. If you’re indoors and wearing a mask, then the risks are low, but beware a false sense of security if playing outside without a face mask – in these circumstances, ask people to keep their distance to protect themselves from the explosive spittle of their partner(s.)
It’s okay to remind your group to keep their distance, often. Until very recently, our default position was to move close to others and not think twice about any physical contact. So, for the benefit of everyone, make frequent reminders of the guidelines such as keeping a safe distance from others, sanitising our hands and wearing masks when indoors. In most cases, my groups have appreciated the prompt because they often get so caught up in the fun, they forget.
Adjusting to COVID19 Normal Programs
Are you struggling to adapt to the new normal, whatever that might mean to you?
This is new to me as well, so I will not hold myself out as an expert, but having explored this realm for a while now, I’m only too happy to help you. Click the button below to reach out if you need some assistance.