Some of us always arrive at a conference early. Perhaps we are worried about traffic, finding a new location, or getting the best seat. Others arrive at the last moment (or later) to avoid mingling, because of poor planning or a traffic jam.
Facilitators are left to decide whether to start on time and honor those early arrivers, or be more realistic and wait until everyone has arrived. What’s the best approach?
Starting on time should always be the goal. Stick to this if 80% of your audience has arrived. If there are still dozens of empty seats, start up to 4 minutes late – but no later! Those that arrive on time will tolerate a few minute delay, but may be frustrated with a longer postponement. They deserve to receive all the information you have planned for your time together.
TIP – Before the session starts, place reserved signs on one or two back tables. The late arrivals can then be directed to these seats so that they don’t disrupt the rest of the group.
For more tips, check out Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Learning, available here or on Amazon and in iBooks.
At times I facilitate professional learning activities for 3 people, and at others for 300 people. The variety keeps me loving my work, but it also keeps me on my toes. An effective facilitator must be prepared for working differently with large and small audiences.
The larger the audience, the earlier an effective facilitator arrives. Even if the technology and set up is the same, more time is needed for “maxi-mingling.” Maxi-mingling refers to mingling that a presenter does just prior to the session to meet as many people as possible and ask intentional questions. Gathering information and developing rapport is a sure way to increase your effectiveness. It will only take a few minutes with a small group, but can take significant time with a larger group. For audiences over 100, try to mingle for at least 20 minutes. With limited time, be sure to work the back of the room first.
With a large group, be ready with your running shoes! Perhaps not actual running shoes, but be prepared to put in lots of miles as you move around the room. Only brief keynotes should keep you standing still at the front. When you ask participants to turn and talk with each other about an idea, be sure to wander the room, listening in to check for comprehension. If you have a wireless microphone, consider presenting from different areas of the room throughout the day. This adds some novelty and honors those seated farthest away from the front.
When your group is very small, it is a snap for participants to ask you questions. It’s just not as easy once your group size is over 40. To address this challenge, encourage participants to come up to you during the breaks with their questions. Assure them that this is what you are there for – and then make yourself available. Also, as you wander the room while participants are doing application activities, stop at tables and ask if anyone has a question. Try using a question parking lot – a poster or wall space where participants can leave questions on sticky notes. Check these throughout the day and address them whenever possible. Finally, make your email address available and encourage participants to contact you later. They will be grateful!
For additional tips, you can order "Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Learning" here , on Amazon or on the iBook Store.
"A picture is worth a thousand words,
but the right metaphor is worth a thousand pictures."
Metaphors and analogies are powerful tools for aiding comprehension of unfamiliar concepts. In developing or examining an analogy, the brain engages in analyzing for meaning, making connections to prior knowledge and creating new memory paths.
The great news is that working analogies into your teaching is easy. Consider two related ideas from your content, write them on the board in analogy format, and then ask your participants to get creative!
For example, if you are facilitating a class on communication, you might post on the board or screen
Body Language is to Communication
_______________ is to _________________
Depending on your group, you might choose to share one or two examples. Then provide participants a few moments of quiet thinking time before asking for examples to be shared out with the whole group.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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