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3 Reasons Why You Should Play BINGO in Your Training Course

BINGO...'s not just for your grandparents. It's a powerful and nuanced training tool that you can...and with your students as well.

Here are three reasons why:

  • Every ecstatic cry of "BINGO" results in an opportunity for one of your participants to teach the other participants.

  • Because your participants know teaching the group is the consequence of shouting "BINGO," they are constantly preparing themselves mentally by reviewing the content.

  • Each BINGO sheet contains the most important key takeaways from your course, so each "BINGO!" is one more opportunity to revisit those takeaways.

Before we dig deeper into each of these benefits, I want to acknowledge and thank the incredible Becky Pike Pluth (CEO of The Bob Pike Group) for introducing me to this activity in 2005.

As I type this text, I can vividly remember the room, the blue BINGO sheet, the feeling of, "Oh crap, I'm close to BINGO," the mental rehearsal of what I was going to say, etc. All great stuff for you and your participants - and certainly not your typical training experience.

Let me also say that since BINGO is an activity that helps reinforce the key takeaways, it's also great for meetings, presentations and other events where you want your audience to walk away with the key points. How it plays out in each of those environments will differ, but the concept is solid and effective in each.

Here's how you give your participants an opportunity to teach

The way I make BINGO work in my workshops is to present it after my 99-seconds activity and immediately after I have covered the agenda for the day. I’ll hand out the BINGO sheets, which contain the key takeaways, concepts or principles that I will be covering.

I create and distribute 5 versions of the sheets, so that there is adequate variation with the participants (note the v1.1 in the upper-right corner).

The rules are simple, yet incredibly powerful from a learning perspective.

  1. Each time you cover one of your concepts or principles, the participants mark it on their BINGO sheets.

  2. When a participant has a BINGO, they call out "BINGO!”

  3. You ask them to stand and read off their marked items. Oh, if only it was that simple. They can’t simply read off their marked items. Instead, for each item, they have to state one takeaway or one thing they remember about that concept or principle.

  4. You provide feedback, correction and kudos as needed.

  5. When they have finished, everyone applauds and you give them a prize.

It's that simple. Yet this activity is incredibly layered and beautifully complex, especially when we jump into the brains of our participants.

There is a flurry of mental rehearsal happening in your participants' brains

What’s going on - mentally - in the brains of your participants is what makes this such a powerful activity.

They know that once they call BINGO they’re going to have to state a key takeaway (or what they remember) for each of their BINGO items. Just that fact causes them to pay particular attention as I cover a concept or principle listed on their sheet. I quite often see participants taking notes right on their BINGO sheet. Awesome!

And having gone through this experience as a participant, I know the feeling of your heart racing as you get closer to BINGO. Mentally, you find yourself rehearsing the key takeaways that you’re going to mention when you call BINGO because you don’t want to screw up in front everyone else. Or maybe you look back through the training materials. All of this is happening with your participants.

And any learning professional knows the power of rehearsal for pushing knowledge from short-term into long-term memory. And how am I (how are you) making this happen? Brute force? A failing grade if they don’t comply? Nope. A simple BINGO sheet. That’s it. Simply beautiful.

So, a participant calls BINGO. They stand, read off each marked item, along with a takeaway or what they remember about that concept/principle. The rest of the class applauds for them, I give them chocolate or some sort of cool "prize" for participating and they sit back down. The first BINGO usually happens before lunch in a full-day workshop.

Guess what happens as we continue through the day?

That’s right - more people start to get BINGO. They repeat the process - state their items and takeaways, get applause and a “prize” then sit down. The afternoon often becomes a flurry or run of BINGOs. Your job is to listen, confirm or correct and praise.

So, as each person stands to state their BINGO items and takeaways, they effectively become the teacher for that 60 secs. And what are they teaching? All of the content that you previously covered.

More importantly, for each BINGO, the participants are listening to one of the colleagues do the review - not you. During this time, the other participants may listen and remember things they had already forgotten. And the more they hear the same key takeaways, the more likely they will remember them.

I hope you can see that the benefits of this simple activity are enormous. Start now. Incorporate it into your training, your meeting, your!

Are you ready to try BINGO?

To make it easy for you, I'm giving you two BINGO templates - absolutely free!

Use the links below to download either a PowerPoint or Keynote version of my BINGO template.

Once you've used the templates, send me an email and let me know how they worked for you.

And if you need more details on how to set up and use the BINGO sheets, I created a video that describes it all. Check it out here:


As Chief EMU Wrangler at The EMU Experience, Ken helps individuals and companies deliver engaging, memorable and unexpected learning experiences. By teaching practical techniques to purposefully increase student engagement, along with methods that incorporate creativity into the design and delivery process, Ken will help you create a learning experience that is engaging, memorable and unexpected.

Got questions: Email Ken –

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