Why I Love Training from the Back of the Room and You Will Too!


Attending the Training from the Back of the Room (TFBR) class was one of those pivotal moments in my career that I look back on years later and see that it fundamentally changed my approach, not only with training but with teams in general. I want to share with you what TFBR is, some of the top tips I took away from the course and share some of my experiences with it.

In a nutshell, Training from the Back of the Room (Created by Sharon Bowman) is a training format and collection of techniques that harnesses Neuroscience to make your training as brain friendly as possible so it will increase its effectiveness; your attendees will learn and retain so much more. But it’s so much more than that, it’s a new way of approaching training and group work, it’s inspiring, interactive and the focus is in service of the learner. As Agile coaches, we know that a self-organizing team with a clear goal and accountability creates an environment where those people will develop and succeed. Training from the Back of the Room approaches training in the same way, it is basically the “Agile” of the training world.

That is why Sharon created the Agile Manifesto for Accelerated learning:

Time for tips!

It made such an impact on me that I wanted to share these tips with you. Because it was learning how the brain learns and works best that led me to make changes in how work with teams.

Tip 1: 10 Minute Rule

If nothing in the environment changes after about 10 minutes, learners will pay less attention to it. For example, if your team is sat around a big table passively watching someone type story details on the screen…. or listening to just 1 or 2 people talk for longer than 10 minutes you begin to lose people.

– After learning this I now ensure that there are no long periods of just 1 person talking in meetings. We vary the techniques we use in team sessions and especially try to involve movement. Or even simply encourage people to stand and stretch.

Tip 2: Structure activities from low to high psychological risk

When people enter a room for training, a workshop, or even a retrospective, they can sometimes be apprehensive or not know what to expect. This can cause them to be stressed and can trigger the fight or flight response in the brain. This results in attendees not being able to be creative or effectively take in new information.

   – I found this especially useful in retrospectives. Now I ease people into the space, warming them up with an activity that is comfortable and build up to the more challenging activities. I have found by taking the time for this and using this lens to design my retros has led to much better outcomes.

Tip 3: Start with the outcome in mind

To plan the best route, we must know where we are going.

This is excellent advice for planning training, or really any meeting. In Training from the Back of the Room, we design our learning outcomes using the 4C’s map. The result of your training must be something you can observe in the room. This way you know it has been received and absorbed. The learning outcome shouldn’t be more than a couple of sentences. I find this the hardest part of designing training, but once I crack it, it helps me scope and decide on what needs to happen in that session.

Often, I use the map analogy with team and POs in the context of sprints, stories, basically I use it a lot.

I love and believe in Training from the Back of the Room so much that I now teach it myself. I want to help spread this amazing approach as much as I can. Most recently I delivered this course in South Africa. We had 2 groups of passionate of Agile coaches, scrum masters and trainers. One of the quotes from one of the attendees:

“Even though I’ve read the book and been using these techniques for years I have learned so much from these 2 days”

see look how happy they are, this could be you too




Learning More

If you would like to learn more about Training from the Back of the Room and future dates and locations please visit the course page here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *