Game Show Espresso: Quick tips to perk up your training

LearningWare Game Show Espresso - April 2011
Quick Tips to Perk Up Your Training

  ISSUE #37 — April 2011

In this issue...

Gameshow Pro 5
Exclusive Features


If you're not using Gameshow Pro 5 yet, you should be. Gameshow Pro 5 has a lot of exclusive features that you won't find in any other product. Here are just a few of our exclusive innovations—designed to make the software more functional for trainers and useful for learning. Take a look:


Top 5 Reasons They Aren't Answering Your Game Show Questions

Heads Together

It's game time. Your game show is all ready to go. The content is in place, the ring-in devices are handy. You read the first question and... one is ringing in to answer. The answer timer counts down in silence (with maybe a little prompting from the host; “Anyone? Anyone know the answer? Ring in...”). You reveal the answer and move on to the next question, thinking it's a fluke response. Again, the proverbial crickets chirp in place of audience responses!

So what happened? Game shows are pretty much guaranteed to generate energy and excitement in the classroom. Are your trainees just really, really shy? Out of coffee? Something else?

Here are the top 5 reasons we've found for the occasional audience-wide silence in response to game show questions.

1. The questions are too tough. Complexity is not a question's friend. If it takes contestants too long to process what you're actually trying to ask—the clock is going to tick away with nary a response. Avoid the complicated word-problem questions, questions that actually ask multiple questions (or ask you to fill in multiple blanks) or questions with many layers of information or qualification required.

Similarly, if it takes contestants too long to figure out a difficult solution to a question, the question should either be simplified or used in a less rapid-fire format. (I.e. Instead of a Categories-style game, an untimed Tic-Tac-Toe game might be more appropriate.)

Once, we had a presenter who spoke for 90 minutes and then wanted to play a game show to review her content. When the time came for the audience to answer the questions, no one was ringing in. She had covered the content, but it was too complex for the audience to absorb without a simpler review.

Tip: Questions should be not-too-easy (there needs to be some challenge) and not-too-tough (allowing the contestants to grasp the concepts).

2. The content wasn't covered. This is the sister problem of the questions being too tough—if only because content that wasn't covered and isn't with the knowledge base of the audience IS technically too tough.

We once created a game for a training course. It was the first time we had given this course, so we only had a rough idea of the timing. We ended up running long, and had to skip almost the last third of our presentation. We didn't, however, want to skip the energizing post-session game show. As could be expected, the first 2/3 of the game show went really well... and the last third had us pleading, “I know we didn't cover this, but try to take a guess?”

Tip: This is where the "end game" feature comes in handy if you're using Gameshow Pro. You can also turn the game show into an open-book game if your trainees have access to materials you haven't reviewed yet.

3. The contestants don't understand the rules. We were once playing a Jeopardy!-style Categories game. A team selected the category and point value. The question was read. No one rang in. When the time ran out, we asked if anyone wanted to take a guess at the answer. As it turns out, the other (non-category-selecting) teams KNEW the answer, but thought that ONLY the team in control of the board was eligible to answer the question. Oops.

Explaining the rules clearly and up front is critical to the success of your game show. If you're using ring-in slammers, the contestants might not know when they can start to ring in, or who should ring in, or whether they can ring in after a team answers correctly, or how long they have to decide to ring in, etc.

Tip: Cover the rules after you introduce the game and the stakes—attention will be at its peak. Also, it's helpful to play a sample question to familiarize the audience with how the game is played.

4. Too much pressure. Your whole audience might not be shy, but chances are you'll have a mix of introverted and extroverted people. Playing individualistically can cause particular people to “opt out” of playing the game for fear of embarrassment or simply because they don't want the spotlight on themselves.

Tip: Playing in teams instead of individually is tremendously helpful in mitigating the pressures and stresses that some people may feel. There is an accountability to one’s team, but not having the direct responsibility of standing up and giving an answer can be an enormous relief. You may want to designate an outgoing team captain to be the mouthpiece of the group; that way everyone can contribute but only the person who feels comfortable speaking up will be required to do so.

5. Too much risk. You're playing a Jeopardy-style categories game. You've been deducting points for incorrect answers. The scores are very close. It may be a difficult question—one that's worth a lot of points.

The team in the lead doesn't want to give up that lead, and the teams behind them don't want to lose ground. No one wants to take the risk of answering the question, so they let the time slip away. No one gains any points, but no one loses anything, either. This is a somewhat-rare phenomenon, but it does happen.

Tip: Incorporate chances to “catch up” inside the game—like extra bonus and wager questions, or just extra credit things that people can do for extra points.

You may also choose to deduct FEWER points for an incorrect answer than the question is worth. (I.e. Set the penalty at 50 points for each question, whether they're worth 200 points, or 1000.) This way the reward is greater than the risk. You may also set the game to take NO point deductions for wrong answers, if you so desire.

Engaging Participants
in OSHA Training

Question Screen

OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazard Association) training is the mandatory standard in many industries where being improperly trained can mean the difference between life and death. Or at the very least, between safety and injury.

Proper instruction doesn't just mean conveying information, it means making sure that you're training in a way where content is going to be remembered.

But the problem is that OSHA training is often dry. OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 courses can cover topics like fall protection, handling of waste and chemical materials, biological hazards, disaster recovery and many, many more—some of which may require trainees to sit through the same courses or be recertified year after year.

So if the content is critical, but making the training engaging is challenging—what is the solution?

Deb Hilmerson, of Hilmerson Safety, came up with an answer while conducting large safety and OSHA training seminars:

“We all know the challenges of keeping learners interested and engaged in safety and health training programs. To add some fun, entertainment and help engage learners, I started using game shows built around my content.”

Using game shows within such serious training modules as OSHA may not seem obvious, but game shows capitalize on competition to drive learning and captivate trainees’ attention—dramatically increasing participation, engaging their emotions and motivating them to explore content.

Dan Yaman, of LearningWare, elaborates:

“Game shows take an ordinary training session and turn it into something extraordinary. More than that, game shows create an engaging, lively classroom environment.”

If a trainer can engage their trainees at a higher rate during a training session—more of that critical information is going to be retained.

This is why Hilmerson Saftey partnered with LearningWare to create OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 games. These game show modules are ready-to-go—alleviating hours and hours of content development. Question content has been organized into “libraries” based on standard subpart topics such as fall protection, scaffolding, hazard communication, HAZWOPER and many more. Each question is painstakingly crafted to include multimedia, extra information, AND align (with citation) with the required industry standard.

OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 games are built using LearningWare's Gameshow Pro template software, which already being over 35,000 classrooms worldwide, and is prominent in safety training. Used to preview, present and review information, Gameshow Pro has been shown to increase content retention by over 60% and has received rave reviews from trainers, trainees and corporations alike.

OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 ready-to-play games for construction will be available shortly. For inquiries, contact

Featured Case Study

Hey! Keep It Down in There!

Fairway 2 Heaven

We recently helped a client Gameshow Pro 5 in their educational workshop.

This session was part of a multi-day event, and attendees could sign up for any session that they so chose. Groups would rotate after a set amount of time—giving attendees the opportunity to be in more than one session and making the presenters give multiple presentations with the same content.

When our client came to us, they were concerned about the interest level of their content. This was a sales group we were dealing with, and they had heard all about the new customer management system (the topic of their workshop), but they weren't adopting the technology as the sales leaders had hoped. So how were they going to generate excitement around not-new information?

With a game show, of course!*

The workshop ended up being structured like so (game show sections in italics):

  1. Welcome
  2. Introductory game questions (2 questions using Gameshow Pro 5’s AllPlay game)
  3. Subject: Account Planning
  4. Review game: Account Planning (5 questions: GSP5 AllPlay)
  5. Subject: Customer Management System
  6. Review game: CMS (5 questions: GSP5 AllPlay)
  7. Summary, additional info and questions
  8. Review game: Both topics (6 questions: GSP5 Classroom Feud)
  9. Closing words

We divided the audience of 60 into two teams, based on the complex criteria of being either on the left or right side of the room. For the AllPlay games, every member of the audience had their own keypad and entered answers individually—the percentage of correct answers going toward their team's score. For the Classroom Feud game, we took several volunteers from each side to come up and play for their team (while the audience cheered them on).

The entire session ended up being about 90 minutes—with games interspersed to keep the energy high.

And boy, was the energy ever high! Aside from a marked increase in attention to the content (just in case anything came up in a game), and retention of the content (as seen in tracking their individual responses) there were two stand-out results:

  1. Since the workshop breakout rooms were beside each other at the hotel, you could hear the game being played in other classes. Not the game sound effects, mind, but the cheering, encouragement and general good time. One of the other leaders—jokingly—asked the facilitators to “Keep it down in there!”
  2. As a result of the energy spilling out of the room, spontaneous attendance to the workshops increased dramatically. The client had people come up and say, “I know I wasn't signed up for your class, but do you have room for one more...” People wanted to come in and play, because it sounded like there was life and energy in the session. It attracted quite the crowd, and as a result MORE people received and retained the information than would have otherwise.

The game shows were a great success. Both the presenters and the audience had a tremendous amount of fun—but it wasn't fun without a purpose. Most importantly: the audience walked away with the message.

*Disclaimer: Game shows may not be the answer to everything... just most things. ;)

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Game Show Gurus Group

Game of the Month Get a Bundle of Extras! Game of the Month Dan Yaman
Dan Yaman
President & Founder, LearningWare

Q. Gameshow Pro has 7 games, but I always feel like I play the Jeopardy!-style one [Categories] the most. What am I missing?
A. The great thing about having 7 different game formats isn't just that you get variety, but that you get different game plays to suit your needs. I would go into more detail about which game suits different needs here, but I want to take this chance to highlight a game I believe is underutilized: Knowledge/College Bowl.

The 6th game in the Gameshow Pro suite, Knowledge Bowl allows you to play three totally different ways:

  1. Toss up/follow up rounds: where the team that rings in and answers correctly gets a few bonus questions that only they can answer. This allows you to keep the competitive atmosphere while going deeper into your content.
  2. Speed rounds: where teams ring in to answer as many questions as they can within 60 seconds (or whichever time frame you specify). This is great as a quick energizer.
  3. Question rounds: you can have normal question rounds—either taking turns with teams or using ring-in.

Got a question for Dan and Missy, authors of the book I’ll Take Learning for 500: Using Game Shows to Engage, Motivate and Train? Submit them to and they could end up in a future edition of Game Show Espresso.

http://www.learningware.cominfo@learningware.com1-800-457-5661 Larry