We begin Chapter 2 with a set-up for learning ”a participatory and lively demonstration of the use of a learning tool. Seminar Leader Dr. Steve Albrecht has a card trick with a dual purpose. In addition to helping trainees focus on how to use learning tools, using the flashy card trick at the beginning of a seminar also sets the mood for creative teaching and the intentional learning that follows .
Steve comments that this icebreaker is useful for training programs in which the participants don't all know each other, such as public seminars . He suggests that it is also useful for on-site programs in which "participants come in acting like they know it all already". Starting a seminar this way focuses attention clearly on the seminar leader and smoothes the transition into learning.
The card trick reminds the audience to use simple but effective tools in business situations that call for intelligent shortcuts, in other words, for problemsolving, brainstorming, team processes, staff meetings, training sessions, delegation of responsibilities, time management, and so on.
The card trick is a good, early icebreaker that sets the tone that the tools demonstrated and discussed during the training seminar are memorable, not too complex, and easy to master, use, and repeat. The card trick focuses trainees on the task at hand and encourages them to think creatively.
To experience relief from early tension
To create of a sense of expectation that the rest of the seminar will be unique, fun, and taught in many creative ways
To experience the use of an effective learning tool
An ordinary deck of cards in its original cardboard box, with a thumbnail- sized square cut out from the bottom right corner of the box.
The instructor should be in the front of the room and should choose two participants from those sitting at a nearby table.
Before you do this icebreaker/card trick, cut a small, square, thumbnail-sized hole in the bottom right corner of the card box. Place the deck of cards back in the box with the card suit and number visible through the hole in the corner. The "trick" is easy to complete when you simply look at a card through the hole in the box. Read the trainee's chosen card to the crowd and enjoy their great amazement.
Pull an ordinary deck of cards (still in the box) from your jacket pocket and show it to the group .
Say, "I'm holding an ordinary deck of cards. I'm going to use it to show you how easy it will be for you to use the tools we will learn in this program".
Remove the deck from the box and hand the deck of cards to one of the seminar participants nearest to you. Hold the card box discreetly in one hand, covering the hole with the palm of your hand. Ask the trainee to show everyone "your best Las Vegas or Atlantic City card shuffling technique!"
After the person shuffles the cards at least once, ask him or her to hold the cards face down and fan them out in a semicircle . You can ask one of their nearby colleagues to choose one card from the deck.
Turn your back on the crowd as he or she prepares to do this. Ask the person to show the card he or she has chosen from the deck to the rest of the people in the room, saying "Tell me when it's safe to turn around, once everyone has seen your card. Before I turn around hide your card from my view".
When you turn around again and face the group, tell the person holding the card to place it on the bottom of the deck (held by the other person), facing the same direction as all the other cards, and hand the deck back to the person who first shuffled them.
As you hold the card deck box in your hand, ask the person who shuffled the cards to help you put them back into the box, with the design side up, and the face or numbered cards side facing down. Hold the card box tightly, with the "hole side" of the box facing down in your palm and your thumb on top.
Once the person has pushed the cards back into the box, step back away from the group, taking a quick moment to see the face and suit of the chosen card, as it appears through the hole in the box. Make a showy flourish of placing the cards against your forehead and explain that like Houdini, you've been blessed with the tool of ESP.
Make your first guess wrong, but only slightly. If the card is a three of clubs, guess that it's three of spades. Ask the group, "Is that correct?" The group will usually say no. Before they can correct you, tell them the actual card.
Wrap up the trick by saying, "Thank you!" and tossing the cards on to the table, acting as if you're ready to move on without explanation. Let the tension build for a moment and then hold up the box for the room to see and say, "You know, if you cut this little hole in the box, the trick is much less difficult than you might think".
Answer their inevitable groans by saying, "So you see, this is a perfect example of using tools to your advantage".
Albrecht, Tau & Farrow
DR. STEVE ALBRECHT is the Senior Partner for the San Diego-based Albrecht, Tau & Farrow, a seminar and management consulting firm with offices in San Clemente and Long Beach, California. He teaches seminars on human resources subjects, negotiating, service management, and employee behavioral issues. He also provides management, supervisory , and employee coaching sessions in areas related to developmental or corrective issues. He has been a Seminar Leader for the American Management Association since 1996, facilitating AMA programs on supervision, management, and leadership.
A retired police sergeant, Steve is internationally known for his work with high-risk employee behavioral problems, workplace security concerns, and the prevention of workplace violence. He is the author or coauthor of 12 books, including: A dded V alue N egotiating (McGraw-Hill Trade, 1993); S ervice ! S ervice ! S ervice ! (Adams Media Corp., 1994); T icking B ombs (Albrecht Training & Development, 1994); The Timeless Leader (Adams Media Corp., 1995), and C risis M anagement F or C orporate S elf -D efense (AMACOM, 1996 ).
He holds a doctorate in Business Administration, an MA in Security Management, and a BA in English. He is certified as a "Professional in Human Resources" (PHR) by the Society for Human Resource Management and as a "Certified Protection Professional" (CPP) by the American Society for Industrial Security.
Steve Albrecht has taught these AMA seminars:
The Brain Power Course: Learn to Develop Your Thinking Skills
Negotiating to Win
Management Skills for New Supervisors