[FRC Blog] Get People Talking and Listening!

Posted on the FRC Blog, 12/14/2020: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2021-get-people-talking-and-listening

Get People Talking and Listening!

2020 DEC 14 | Written by Ken Patton, 1999 WFA Winner & Allen Gregory, 2019 WFA Winner

Recently, we got to see some awesome people who wanted to #WalkLikeWoodie - way to go Camdenton LASER!

Do you know what else Woodie was great at? Listening!

With the challenges of communicating while keeping some distance, let us think about effective ways to get people on your robotics team talking and listening to each other. It is a challenge under normal circumstances, right? But it is always important. Conversation engages our newer students in the excitement of robotics, and in a crazy year like this, it is more important than ever to be part of something, as special as FIRST Robotics.

One favorite way to get newer students involved is to have frequent opportunities where each student is asked to speak about a particular topic. Not only does everyone get a chance to give their input, but more importantly, those people who are not as vocal can have a chance to “own the floor.” It’s a good way to get some feedback and ideas from less talkative and newer people, especially if they are the first ones to speak! Sometimes the most creative ideas come from someone new to the game…

Another option is to get people talking about subjects they know. Robotics is new to a lot of students; it is often hard to speak on a topic you have not yet learned. Team building activities focused around subjects that everyone knows can provide a way for everyone to feel more comfortable. One example is splitting your team into small groups and asking them to rank their favorite fruits, candy, or Disney movies. Then each member would share in the small groups and by the end, everyone will present at least once. This lets the members get comfortable speaking in small groups and presenting to the whole team without a lot of pressure.

Here’s hoping that your teams are putting things in place to make sure that ears are open for all the voices on our teams!


Not that this isn’t valuable advice, but I sometimes wish there was a separate post stream for important info like KoP and Team Updates. It’s very easy to lose important updates when they’re mixed in with other more general advice, not to mention titles like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
Content-wise, I think these are good ideas though.

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Communicating vital info is sometime it seems a challenge with coaches and mentors balancing busy lives. And so it helps to have direct, concise, and targeted efforts to reach some of the people that don’t make a habit of checking here or the blog. Even then I can see where the length of a post obscures something. I’ve seen at least time and again where a team’s mentor is totally surprised by a piece of info that was somewhere in a blog post or email. People seem to miss even more stuff than you think they would, and you have to balance between reposting the same info or them missing that place it says it. Maybe a singular MUST READ section could help or maybe not that much. Hard to tell.

I am glad to hear some of the ideas shared. It is something we do on our team but I think this more clearly outlines the reasons to make it habit. Students learning to speak their ideas in front of groups is one of the valuable aspects of FIRST, but all the students need an opening to comfortably begin practicing that skill.

I do feel that this post would’ve been better suited on the FIRST Inspire Blog.

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