This is inspired by a problem we were asked to solve for one of our clients. The trainer wanted to design workshops using game shows for their annual company-wide training session. The problem was that the workshops were not going to be divided by skill level--rather by product line. That meant that in any given room they could have experts mixed in with new hires.
How could they play a game show that didn't bore the experts, but that still kept the attention of the less seasoned trainees? Here were our proposed solutions:
Divide the Trainees into Teams. By putting trainees into balanced teams, you allow the less experienced persons to learn from the more experienced persons. Ideally, each team should have a good mix of new and experienced trainees, as well as a good mix of skill sets (or different product line knowledge). Require teams to collaborate before giving an answer (consider eliminating ring-in and instead taking turns between teams), and designate different team leaders for each question so that no one dominates the team.
Use Questions with Increasing Difficulty. The difficulty level of a game show's questions can make-or-break a session with trainees of different skill levels. Questions that are too difficult will frustrate less experienced trainees, while questions that are far too easy don't accomplish much training with the experienced crowd. In this instance, organize your game show so that it starts off with easier (or more basic) questions, and works its way up to the advanced questions. A Categories game is ideal for this situation because teams can answer the relatively simple low point value questions, and the higher point value questions can incorporate more difficult material. Keep in mind that you can always elaborate on your content after you play a question--so put the complex review there, and keep the questions moderately simple.
Make it an Open-Book Game Show. Switch the focus of the game show from knowing product information to being able to FIND product information. Not everyone can recall information at the drop of a hat--and often it's more important to know where to find answers than to have them already. Use training manuals, product information guides, etc., and stage a game show where trainees must find answers within their manuals while playing the game show. The first team to find the answer (or to find the page on which the answer is located) rings in.
Segment the Game Show in the Workshop. Intersperse training and game show activities during the workshop, and base your game show ONLY on material that has been covered in the session. This way, you can have game show segments that are immediately relevant to the training you just covered. This not only is a great review method and a great way to break up a session into manageable chunks but it also ensures that every trainee has the same information and increases the overall energy of the room.
Consider Giving "Pre-Work". Giving out work before a training session can be a great "teaser", can bring everyone up to speed, and can be a fun way to see what everyone knows. Using an online pre-game can prepare trainees for what they may face in a training session and can also give the trainer an idea of where the knowledge level is in the audience.