Khyati Kapai is the founder and Principal Trainer of Yzer Solutions Pte Ltd. She has been teaching and training since 2001. Born in Hong Kong, she is currently based in Singapore. She specializes in Professional Communication and other soft skills topics. As a trained Results Coach, she also offers executive coaching. Her Thiagi certification underscores her commitment to experiential, activity-based instruction. She is looking forward to designing and publishing training resources of her own.
TGL: Khyati, what is your experience in designing and using games?
Khyati: My first introduction to teaching through games occurred when I taught at Summerbridge (now known as the Breakthrough Collaborative in the US) during high school in Hong Kong. This is a non-profit collaboration that helps motivated, underprivileged students maintain an interest in learning. Key to its success is the students-teach-students model that offers older students the opportunity to teach younger students. We were always encouraged to engage our students through hands-on learning to cement their belief that learning is fun.
Anybody who has ever been involved with this program will appreciate the irreversible value for learning it instills in you. So when I started my career as a corporate trainer, the philosophy of hands-on learning was already ingrained in me. Nevertheless, attending Thiagi's first workshop was a humbling experience for me because he had taken experiential learning to a whole other level. I immediately implemented many of his techniques and they transformed my workshops. Adult learners expect training to be engaging and they like to take ownership of their learning, so the response has been very positive. Also, an interactive workshop ends up engaging the trainer. You enjoy watching your own workshop unfold like a show.
Outside my profession, I'm addicted to Scrabble. I also love the party games Mafia and Psychiatrist. Back in university, for a friend's birthday party, I designed an elaborate treasure hunt across the campus. Growing up, my siblings and I created many make-believe games that we still enjoy reminiscing about.
TGL: What challenges do you face in conducting games and how do you overcome them?
Khyati: When I try out new games, it's difficult to anticipate everything. So I try them out with safe groups first.
Sometimes, I still get feedback from participants that they did not get enough input from me. So after the debriefing of the activities, I try to share my personal thoughts and insights on the related content. Doing extensive reading on the content helps a lot. At the end of the day, the activities are still only as good as the content that they explore.
With larger groups, it becomes challenging to control the chaos that often results from activity-based learning. Activity rules need to be enforced (such as no talking allowed or stop what you're doing). Honing facilitation techniques to provide clear instructions can make all the difference.
TGL: What advice do you have to newcomers about interactive training?
Khyati: It's a common misconception that incorporating games is time-consuming. I had to design a leadership workshop with no existing content. Initially, I fell into the old habit of starting to compile extensive research on leadership into a deck of presentation slides. It became time-consuming, so I lost interest and discontinued. Instead, I decided to just identify the necessary topics to cover and gathered the related content. Then for each topic, I identified activities that would help participants to best engage in the related content. This ended up being much less time consuming and, of course, more engaging.
TGL: What types of games do you use most frequently?
Khyati: My favorite Thiagi techniques are Thirty-Five, Essence, Envelopes, Barnga, and the use of various Practical Advice Cards. I also use my Bogglestorm technique a lot. The other game I love is the team building game, Prisoner's Dilemma. It's so cleverly designed and I have so much fun observing the participants play it.
TGL: Do you have any book recommendations?
Khyati: Here are a couple of books that I find very useful:
The Pfeiffer Book of Successful Team-Building Tools, edited by Elaine Biech. From this book, I like Broken Triangles, Lost at Sea, Prisoner's Dilemma, and No Strings Attached.
52 Activities for Improving Cross-Cultural Communication by Donna M. Stringer and Patricia Cassidy. This book contains lots of thought-provoking activities on cross-cultural communication.
TGL: What is your prediction about the future of games-based instruction?
Khyati: The future of games-based instruction is sealed! Given shorter attention spans and the information explosion, instruction without games is doomed. Trainers will add value by both distilling the underlying content and conducting activities that best help the participants engage and apply the relevant content. Furthermore, with advances in instructional technology (such as audience response systems), the potential for training games is truly unlimited.