Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.

Virtual Video Vignettes
Let's put on a show.

Card Game
Silent Sorting
Organize the cards.

Video Jolt
Palm Reading
Move back.

Online Game
Training Sequence
One step at a time.

New Workshop
How To Increase and Improve Trust Levels
Announcing a new workshop.

US Workshops
Workshops in the USA
Our most popular workshop in seven cities.

International Workshops
Workshops outside the USA
Three countries, four workshops.

From Brian's Brain
Reward for Achievement and Contribution by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.

Online Survey
What Does Your Writing Reveal?
Can you judge a person by their writing?

Survey Results
Learning Styles
A summary of your responses.

Check It Out
The Learning Styles Controversy
Another myth debunked?





To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.

Editorial Roster

Author and Editor : Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan

Assistant Editor : Raja Thiagarajan

Associate Editors: Tracy Tagliati and Jean Reese

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer

Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Matthew Richter, Samuel van den Bergh, and <type your name here>

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2013 by The Thiagi Group. However, they may be freely reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no need to obtain special permission for such use as long as you do not reproduce more than 100 copies per year. Please include the following statement on all reproductions:

Reprinted from THIAGI GAMELETTER. Copyright © 2013 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

For any other use of the content, please contact us ( ) for permission.

Subscription Info

To sign up, or to donate and help us continue this newsletter, please see the Online Newsletter page on our website ( ).

Feedback Request

Thiagi believes in practicing what he preaches. This is an interactive newsletter, so interact already! Send us your feedback, sarcastic remarks, and gratuitous advice through email to . Thanks!


People enjoy putting on a show. In this activity two teams compete to produce the best roleplay based on the same scenarios. Two other teams provide audience rating and constructive feedback.

Virtual Video Vignettes

Basic Idea

Two teams separately prepare and act out the same basic roleplay. Other participants watch these role-plays, compare the two versions, and evaluate them.


To recall and apply customer-service principles.


Minimum: 8
Maximum: 28
Best: 16 - 24


30 minutes to 1 hour



Select two scenarios from these samples (or prepare your own):

  1. Mixed-Up Pick-Up. A customer arrives at your business at 2:00 PM to pick-up a product that you promised would be ready at 3:00 PM. The customer is sure that you said 2:00 PM.
  2. Haven't Got a Clue! The customer asks for a music CD. You have never heard of the artist. You cannot find the artist in the computer database either.
  3. I Can't Understand You. You are serving a customer whose first language is other than your own. You find it difficult to understand him.
  4. No Longer Works here. An irate customer demands to speak to her Customer Service Representative. However, that person has since left the company. The customer's anger escalates and she demands to speak to the manager. The manager is out for the day.

Make enough copies of the two selected scenarios for the members of the two pairs of teams.


Organize participants into teams. Divide the participants into four teams of two to seven people each. It does not matter if some of the teams have one more member than the others.

Distribute roleplay scenarios. Each pair of teams should receive the same scenario. For example, if you have four teams, Teams 1 and 2 may receive the first scenario; Teams 3 and 4, the second scenario.

Explain the roleplay task. Ask the teams to pretend that they are producing a 2-minute training video to demonstrate appropriate customer service. The task for each team is to prepare a dramatic vignette and act it out. Recommend that the vignette feature just two people playing the roles of a customer and an employee. Announce a 5-minute preparation time. Because of the limited time, encourage the teams to rapidly prepare an outline for the video, quickly rehearse key incidents, and improvise the lines.

Explain the evaluation task. The video vignette staged by each team will be evaluated along these three dimensions:

Coordinate planning activities. Remind the teams that they have 5 minutes to prepare their vignette. Start the timer. Let teams work on their own. Give a 2-minute warning at the end of 3 minutes. Blow a whistle at the end of 5 minutes to signal the end of the planning time.

Stage the roleplays. Send all members of Team 2 out of the room. Ask the actors from Team 1 to stage their vignette. Remind of the 2-minute time limit and strictly enforce this limit. Invite the members of Teams 3 and 4 to carefully watch the vignette.

At the end of 2 minutes, stop the roleplay and invite Team 1 to return to the room and stage its vignette. (The first team can stay in the room and watch the enactment.)

Ask the audience teams to announce their ratings. After the second segment, ask the members of Teams 3 and 4 to select one of the two vignettes as the best drama. Invite these teams to briefly present evaluative feedback on the three rating dimensions (authenticity, instructional value, and interest) for both vignettes.

Repeat the process. Send Team 4 outside the room and have Team 3 stage its vignette. Bring Team 4 back to the room for its presentations. Ask the members of Teams 1 and 2 select the best vignette and to provide feedback.

Card Game

Silent Sorting

Here's a modified version of a flexible planning technique called Affinity Diagrams (see ) that is used to organize ideas and data. Silent Sorting requires you to organize practical advice cards into logical clusters. In the process you learn more about the relationship among different pieces of advice.

About the Cards

This game uses a deck of Practical Advice Cards.

Each card in a deck of 52 Practical Advice Cards contains an actionable guideline related to a specific topic. We currently have 10 different ready-to-use decks of cards for sale in our online store on the topics of trust building, coaching, interviewing, customer service, feedback, listening, managing globally, leadership, motivation, and presentation skills.

This activity, Silent Sorting, does not require a deck of ready-made Practical Advice Cards. You can get started with your own collection of practical advice or ask the participants to generate their own.


The participants work in teams and silently sort packets of practical advice cards into logical categories. Later they discuss and improve the categories and label them.


To organize practical advice cards into logical categories.


Minimum: 3
Maximum: Any number, organized into groups of three to five.
Best: 10 to 30


120 - 40 minutes


Handout, Silent Sorting Instructions, one copy for each participant



Organize teams. Divide the participants into teams, each with at least three to five members.

Brief the participants. Distribute copies of the instruction sheet to all participants. Ask them to read the instructions individually. After a suitable pause, clarify the instructions as needed.

Distribute the cards. Give one complete set of practical advice cards to each team. Briefly explain the nature of the pieces of practical advice on each card.

Coordinate the activity. Ask the teams to begin their task and organize the practical advice cards. Announce a suitable time limit. Move among the teams observing the activities. Keep track of the time.

Conclude the activity. Blow the whistle at the end of the time limit. Ask teams to arrange their item cards and headings on the table and invite participants to review other teams' products.

Debrief the activity. Discuss the similarities and differences among different teams arrangement of the pieces of advice. Also ask participants to reflect back on the activity and share their insights about the topic.


Silent Sorting Instructions

What To Do With the Practical Advice Cards

Take a packet of about 10 cards from the pile and spread them on the table, written side up.

Stand around the table and silently read the pieces of advice on the cards.

Sort the cards silently and independently, using the guidelines below.

Review other participants' actions. Move cards from one location to another to improve the arrangement. However, do not talk to the other team members.

When you have sorted the initial packet of cards, spread the other cards, written side up. Repeat the same procedure.

What To Do After All Cards Have Been Sorted Out

You may now talk. Briefly discuss the arrangement with the other team members. Make suitable changes and improvements.

Review the cards in each cluster. Come up with a suitable heading for the cluster. Write this on a blank card and place it on top of the cluster.

Count the total number of clusters. If you have fewer than five clusters, you have too few. Review the cluster with the most cards and split them into two different clusters. Write new heading cards for these clusters.

If you have more than nine clusters, you have too many. Review the clusters with the fewest cards and combine them into a single cluster.

Review the cards in each cluster and arrange them in some logical order.


Duplicate Advice

If two cards contain the same advice (but worded differently), combine them into a single item by attaching the two cards together with a paper clip.

Similar Advice

If two cards contain similar pieces of advice (but not exactly the same ones), place them near each other.

More than One Piece of Advice

If a single card contains more than one piece of advice, divide the text into two cards by copying one of the pieces of advice on a blank card and crossing it out from the other card.

Different Advice

If a card contains a piece of advice that is different from the previous ones, place it away from the other cards.

Video Jolt

Palm Reading

We are producing a series of video jolts and hope to release them in upcoming issues of TGL.

This issue's jolt is called Palm Reading and it lasts for 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Visit to watch it.

The learning point in the video is that the farther you move away from an object or event the better you see the bigger picture. Distance provides you a look at the context.

Enjoy the jolt and let me know what insights you came up with.

Online Game

Training Sequence

One of the most useful training tools that I have been using for decades is Robert Gagné's Events of Instruction. Here is the basic idea: In order to learn effectively, participants need nine different types of external support in a particular sequence.

We have created an online game that lists the nine events of instruction. At the start of the game, they are arranged in a random order. Your task is to drag and drop them in the correct order.

You can play the game at Special thanks to students of Gregory Rawlins's P632 class on Object-Oriented Software Management for rewriting the game engine to work with mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops.

New Workshop

How To Increase and Improve Trust Levels

Bad news: During the past decade, trust levels have been decreasing rapidly among participants, team members, customers, employees, and organizations. Many powerful reasons are accelerating this decline. Good news: You can use effective strategies to increase trustworthiness at various levels of your interpersonal interactions.

Workshop Goals and Outcomes

Who Should Attend

Workshop Content

  1. What is trust?
  2. Types of trust
  3. Importance of trust
  4. How to measure your trust level
  5. Improving trust with SPARK: Selflessness, Predictability, Authenticity, Relatedness, and Know-how
  6. How to increase your selfless focus on others
  7. How to increase your predictability and reliability
  8. How to increase your authenticity and genuineness
  9. How to increase your relatedness and commonality
  10. How to increase your know-how and capacity

What Is Unique About This Workshop?

Evidence-based content. The workshop uses a conceptual model that is based on empirical principles, sound theory, and solid experiences from the field.

Experiential learning. This hands-on workshop uses a variety of field-tested activities including engaging exercises, interactive lectures, authentic roleplays, and debriefing discussions.

Aligned approach. All content presented in the workshop is immediately incorporated in learning activities. All new skills and knowledge are directly aligned with effective behavior in the workplace and measurable results from your organization.

No bait and switch. Many workshops associated with thought leaders in our field are frequently conducted by inexperienced contract trainers. Not so in our case: This workshop is designed and delivered by Thiagi and his senior associates.

For More Information

Watch this video: .

Public Workshop in Portland

Thiagi and his associates will conduct this public workshop in Portland, Oregon on August 8-9, 2013. We will provide more information in a future issue of TGL.

US Workshops

Workshops in the USA

For the past 20 years, Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training has been rated by participants around the world as one of the best training-design and -delivery workshops. Based on local demand, Thiagi and Matt are happy to announce that they will present this workshop in seven five different US cities in 2013. (July 2013 addendum: Unfortunately, the workshops scheduled for July 2013 had to be cancelled.)

WHAT: Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training: A 3-day workshop

FOR WHOM: Trainers, facilitators, instructional designers, performance consultants, and managers

HOW MUCH: Regular registration rate: $1600. As a reader of the Thiagi GameLetter, get $200 off by entering coupon code TGL-WS13 when you register online.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Watch this video: .

1. Albany, New York, USA

WHEN: June 18-20, 2013.

MORE INFORMATION: Review the brochure (1.2M PDF).

Register now!

4. San Francisco, California, USA

WHEN: August 19-21, 2013.

MORE INFORMATION: Review the brochure (1.2M PDF).

Register now!

5. Dallas, Texas, USA

WHEN: October 1-3, 2013.

MORE INFORMATION: Review the brochure (1.2M PDF).

Register now!

6. Orlando, Florida, USA

WHEN: October 15-17, 2013.

MORE INFORMATION: Review the brochure (1.2M PDF).

Register now!

7. Atlanta, Georgia, USA

WHEN: November 5-7, 2013.

MORE INFORMATION: Review the brochure (1.2M PDF).

Register now!

International Workshops

Workshops outside the USA

Thiagi and his associates are happy to announce these workshops outside the USA. Check our online calendar at for details.

From Brian's Brain

Reward for Achievement and Contribution
by Brian Remer

Typically we receive recognition for personal growth and professional accomplishment through educational institutions. While that formal recognition is important, it does not reflect the achievements a person has attained through informal channels. Now it's possible to offer credit and recognition for any achievement online. Learn about Credly and try it out for yourself in this issue of the Firefly News Flash. Power Tip: Make sure recognition is in appreciation of an individual's contribution rather than a bribe for good behavior.

Read more in the April 2013 issue of Firefly News Flash: .

Online Survey

What Does Your Writing Reveal?

What does your writing reveal? I've seen this question asked many different places.

Since writing (especially business writing) is an important corporate training topic, let's explore the impact of writing on people's judgment.

Poll Question

Do you judge people based on their writing?


(The poll opens in a new window.)

Open Question

What bothers you the most about how others write?


(The survey opens in a new window.)

You may include your name along with your response, or if you prefer, keep it anonymous.

Survey Results

Learning Styles

Poll Question

In the April 2013 issue of TGL we asked you whether or not you think that differences in learning styles are important in designing training.

An overwhelming majority of you (80 percent) selected “yes”.

Open Question

We thank the 41 readers who responded to this open question:

How do you handle differences in learning styles in your training sessions?

Here are a few excerpts from your responses:

40) We provide graphics and simulations for visual learners, playdoh model creation for tactile learners, discussions for auditory learners, and hands-on practice for kinesthetic learners.

31) When I introduce an information, I try to present it in different formats so that different people with different learning styles are satisfied. For example, while I'm giving that information verbally, I have it on a slide/board/etc. for people to read it. Then I do a group activity on it. I might have asked students to study it as a prework, too.

23) Learning styles are not grounded in research: .
I design for an active approach to learning that includes both an active and reflective experiences that use a variety of senses.

13) If the content is relevant and delivered in well designed/engaging/respectful way—the content will stick.

4) Even if “learning styles” were a proven phenomenon, we can't just train one style. And since I believe and the research supports that all styles are present to varying degrees within a single individual, it is important to have a variety of each.

Thanks to everyone who responded.

You Can Still Participate

This survey is still open. Feel free to add your comments by visiting the survey page.

Check It Out

The Learning Styles Controversy

More than 100 TGL readers responded to this question from our April 2013 online survey:

Do you think that differences in learning styles are important in designing training?

Eighty percent of the respondents said “Yes”.

I say “No”.

I don't think differences in learning styles are important factors in designing training. I believe that good training design (which incorporates active and interactive learning) is effective for people of all learning styles. I think we are wasting time and effort when we believe in the myth of learning style differences and their impact on the design and delivery of training.

Rather than ranting at length, I recommend that you check out these online articles by two thought leaders in our field:

“Stop Wasting Resources on Learning Styles” by Ruth Colvin Clark

“Why Is the Research on Learning Styles Still Being Dismissed by Some Learning Leaders and Practitioners?” by Guy W. Wallace

I could give several more evidence-based references, but my friend Guy has effectively completed this task already. Check out his blog piece:

“Foo Foo About Designing Instruction for Learning Styles Differences” by Guy W. Wallace

If you disagree with me and want to debate this point, please use the “Add your feedback” link below. If you want me to contact you, please include your name and email address.