Jolts! Activities to Wake Up and Engage Your Participants


Thiagi is famous for designing games and advocating the use of games in training. Jolts is one more offering in this line of work that focuses on short playful activities.

The authors define jolts as “brief activities that challenge (and maybe push, jar, and sometimes shock) participants to re-examine their comfortable assumptions and habitual practices”. They may be used as icebreakers, energizers, transitions from one topic to another. They may also serve as learning activities to support a learning point or to vary the pace of training.

There are two types of jolts: enlightenment jolts and entrapment jolts. Enlightenment jolts are designed to create “ah ah” moments for participants. On the other hand, entrapment jolts are designed to lead participants down the wrong path by inducing a mistake, thereby resulting in learning about how the spontaneous behaviours or thought patterns of participants need to be questioned.

The book proposes 50 jolts. Each is described at length and the authors provide a synopsis, the purpose of the jolt, a list of related training topics, the number of participants, the time required for the activity and debriefing, the supplies required, preparation, flow of the activity, indications on how to conduct the debriefing activities and specific learning points than can be made.

Like many other books of this type, you may find that the activities proposed do not fit your specific needs. However, the dynamic format in itself is an inspiration to develop one’s own or to use variations of Thiagi’s collection to create more stimulating training. The first section provides a solid foundation for using jolts, facilitating, and debriefing them so that it is easy to go beyond the 50 examples given in the second section of the book and use one’s creativity.


Thiagarajan, Sivasailam and Tracy Tagliati, Jolts! Activities to Wake Up and Engage Your Participants, Pfeiffer, 2011.



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