Do you want to improve your audience engagement, information retention, and overall learning outcomes, no matter what the topic or the duration of your presentation?

Do you know what is hot these days among Agile aficionados?

Is the Agile Community more open than others to learning and trying out leading edge knowledge and skills?

During the summer of 2015, I attended Agile Alliance’s “Agile 2015” in Washington D.C. Wow! What a large gathering it was and how exciting. I noticed that the most energized and engaged presentations seemed to often end with: “Thank you Sharon Bowman for ‘Training from the Back of the Room!’”.

An additional “buzz” I observed was around gamification, where games are used to communicate concepts. Apparently, blasting information out of our mouths like firehoses is not the easiest way for brains to learn. Since humans are amazing creatures, we still have managed to learn in spite of what has become our mainstream habitual method but it looks like there are better ways of teaching out there…

Hungry for the most fluid and leading edge thinking and skills, I sought out Ms. Bowman’s course (, and became a certified trainer for  Training from the Back of the Room! This two day experience, teaches how to design and facilitate learning ranging from 10 minutes to, well, any duration!

It is based on accelerated learning techniques and the last 15+ years of cognitive neuroscience research, referred to as “Brain-Based Learning”. This rich content can be applied to any topic that you want to convey!

So, why is it that the Agile community is the one to so fully embrace it?

I am continually impressed at how those interested in Agile are often those who are ready and willing to experiment toward better, more fluid, and more sustainable mindsets and approaches! This important shift may also be witnessed in worldwide movements, such as,, and, to name only a few (Please add your kindred movement in the comments!).

So, Training from the Back of the Room! is a book and a course with some of its content summarized in the “at a glance” 4C’s Design Checklist card. You can download it at This is your “cheat sheet” for applying a few of the concepts from Sharon Bowman’s many books and two-day training course.

These concepts were used by many of Agile 2015 excellent speakers, who gave what I thought were the most energizing and engaging sessions. On the card, the top six colorful rectangles are “The Six Trumps!” and the the bottom six are “Pathways to Memory!”

The 4C’s are:

  • Connections

“We learn best when we connect to others in a psychologically safe environment AND when we connect new concepts to what we already know.”

‘What does the learner already know about it?’

  • Concepts

“Communication of new concepts may be communicated through metaphor, games, reading, writing, speaking, images, and do not always have to come through an authority figure’s voice while pointing to a slide.”

‘What does the learner need to know about it?’

  • Concrete Practice

“We understand best when the new concept is reinforced by the opportunity to ‘do it’ and ‘teach it.’”

‘Can the learner do it or teach it to someone else?’

  • Conclusions

“Celebration and connection of the new concept/skill to our regular life, reinforces the learning and makes it relevant and important.”

‘How does the learner plan to use it?’

You can use the 4C’s any time you design a  presentation or learning session, even for a keynote speech. The “4C’s Design Quality Checklist” is useful anytime you want to convey new information. Learning is indeed more fun and easier when we connect with others, and actively participate.

Warning: this type of engagement implies more work for both the “instructor” and the “learner.” If you would rather just show up and talk to your audience, or simply sit and listen with minimal retention, this material is not for you. If you are willing to put in the effort to truly convey new concepts and create an engaged creative learning environment, checkout Sharon’s books and tools at for self-directed learning and/or attend a course to truly experience the content in action!

By the way, this two day course is an excellent, fun and fruitful team building experience for groups of trainers working for the same organization. You all can up-level your personal and organizational skill set as you connect and reinforce your relationships with each other. It is great fun and I love teaching it, well actually facilitating it!

Inspired Agility and Pyxis have scheduled several public trainings this fall in North America as an experiment. There is even a special deal for those attending the Scrum.Org Face-to-Face in Seattle, Washington this November 2016.

Did you attend Agile 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia?!? What was your observation on the hot buzz at this year’s Agile2016? Please share your comments!

Christine Brautigam

Christine’s career matured along with “the art and science of software development”. She builds upon a foundation of experience first as a developer/analyst and team lead then software process improvement, project management, IT effectiveness and adoption consulting, and now focused on organizational and leadership effectiveness. As a result of her far-reaching experiences in different industries and organizations, Christine, founded Inspired Agility (a Pyxis Network Member) to provide thought partner and consulting services for individuals and organizations embarking on meaningful transitions.

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