Tuesday, 26 July 2016

5 Strategies to improve Role Play

Today I watched this video on social media.
It's showing a role play simulation taking place during a seminar.
And boy, did it make me cringe...

Not because of the lovely people doing their absolute best, but because of the techniques that are being used. As a role play actor myself I deal with people fearing role play every day. And I'm extremely passionate about making sure simulations are being used correctly.

Because in a world of e-learning, learning bites, blended learning and brain based learning, the simple act of role play is still one of the most effective and impactfull ways of changing behavior.
If... done correctly.

So what can we learn from this video?

1. Role play needs to be voluntary. 
In the video we see Stuart being forced to do the role play scenario. The presenter puts him in front of an audience without any consent. He jokes to the audience "I never signed up for this..." You can see his discomfort. Even though Stuart is an absolute professional about it, a role play should never feel unsafe for the participant. And you should never ever force people into it.

2. Role play is fun but not to be laughed at. 
The presenter states she looks forward to 'seeing Stuart sweat' and the description of the video speaks of a 'Hilarious live role play". Maybe you were even laughing yourself watching the video. But role play is essentially about practicing and developing new behaviors. People should feel free to laugh and have fun, just bare in mind its not at somebody else's expense, exposure or failure.

3. Role play needs purpose 
So why did this role play take place? To 'watch the master work?' like the presenter says? Without a clear focus (purpose) it quickly turns into a role play just for the sake of doing a role play.

If the purpose indeed was to 'watch the master work' it would have been more effective to inform Stuart prior to the seminar to make sure his demonstration was as knowledgeable as possible.

If the purpose was to improve Stuart's skills on dealing with objections it would have been more effective to ask him what he actually wanted to improve. The role play then should have stopped once Stuart has dealt with an objection. The key then is to focus on what he did successfully and what he can improve.

4. Work with professionals
Diann plays the customer in the video. She is absolutely lovely and didn't give Stuart a hard time at all. But role play acting is a true art and it requires a lot more then you'd initially think.
So what would a professional role play actor have done differently? Firstly he or she would have laid down the rules. How are we going to tackle this together? Secondly they would have provided more learning opportunities. (In this case: objections)

Also they would have spent less time talking, as a professional role play actor only speaks a maximum of 20% of the time as it is the participant who needs to shine.

Finally a role play actor would have been able to display professional acting skills to create a real life scenario that comes closer to reality and therefor increases the impact of the learning experience.

5. Follow up
In the video the role play ends and Stuart is complimented by the presenter "He sold the car!".
People applaud and everyone goes back to their seats and on with the show.
A missed opportunity!

The most impact full aspect of a role play is the feedback afterwards. Providing constructive feedback on the effect of the verbal and non verbal communication during the conversation, is the only way you will learn what works for or against you.

So next time you think of doing a role play, think about these five strategies and make sure your role play becomes effective, safe and fun!

Want to know more about InterACT WA? Check out our website www.interactwa.com.au or visit our facebook www.facebook.com/interactwa