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Practice makes perfect, discover the impact of roleplay and realplay to transfer learning

By James Larter

Posted 02/11/2018

It’s very hard to argue with the popular adage that ‘you can’t learn to swim by reading a book’, which is exactly why we build in a high element of practice and live simulation into all our training.

So what can roleplay and realplay add to your L &D?

Many HR professionals will have used roleplay to assess candidates’ competency in handling a conversation or situation, or to demonstrate the learning required to develop competency in a specific role.

Working from a detailed brief, roleplay actors portray a specific character and scenario and are prepared to react in character to the candidate’s conversation and body language; by using a professionally trained actor, assessors can be confident that they have the right skills to consistently run the same scenario time and time again, providing a level playing field to accurately gauge individual performance.

Roleplay is also an excellent development tool. Participants can practise and experience realistic work place scenarios in a safe and secure environment, ideal if you’re looking to prepare individuals for new roles, so they’re ready to hit the ground running from day one.

Professional roleplayers will be able to both prompt and guide the participant along a conversation journey, providing a live platform for them to demonstrate and practise how they could handle the situation. Depending on your objectives a professional roleplayer will build in appropriate levels of challenge (how easily they release information to help the participant) to keep the simulation flowing.

Professional roleplayers are skilled in providing feedback in character of how they were made to feel, offering invaluable insight into the impact of language and behavioural style. Where required, they can be briefed to provide additional developmental coaching, to further enhance the participants’ delivery and boost confidence.

Realplay is perhaps a less known term, but also an extremely effective means of embedding learning, building confidence and improving outcomes.

To get the most out of realplay, participants prepare an individual scenario in advance, it will usually reflect a personal situation, relevant to their own work place; perhaps a challenging conversation with a colleague or an issue they need to raise with management.

Expert skills coaches take on the role described in the scenario to portray the character and behaviours in a realistic and responsive manner, in so doing they act as a testing ground for the participant to try out their approach. Skills Coaches are experienced in learning and development objectives, so that participants can benefit from receiving feedback which is objective, specific, non-judgemental and supportive.

Realplay is particularly useful to add in to in-house or online training as a blended learning option. It is highly effective in helping participants to consolidate learning and trial new skills, providing the opportunity to really relate their learning to their workplace.

Face-to-face or remote that the next question?? More in our next blog


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