The time is 10:00 and the official break has begun. One hundred participants get up to stretch, while a handful approach the front of the room to speak with me individually, asking questions or sharing stories. I have encouraged these one-on-one interactions so that everyone can receive what they need. Lunchtime rolls around and the same pattern emerges - interacting with a variety of people for a significant portion of the break. By the time the afternoon break happens, I rush to the restroom, enter a stall and think about staying inside for the entire time. I am relieved to know that this is not an uncommon feeling.
Susan Cain recounts a similar story in her book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking." Professor Brian Little, an expert in psychology and self-proclaimed introvert, admits to seeking shelter in the restroom whenever he has a break during his presentations. He even goes so far as to pull his feet up so that no one will know he is there! Introverts find these moments essential for regaining the energy needed to return to the public, social interactions that have to occur when facilitating adult learning.
While I don't consider myself an introvert, I have learned that there are times when it is ok to hide, and others when it is not. Here are the three most essential times during a training session when facilitators should make themselves available to the audience.
1. For 30 minutes before the session starts. This is the time for "maxi-mingling" - meeting as many participants as possible and gathering information about their needs and experiences.
2. During the first break. Once participants have a sense of your content and personality, they may want to approach you with questions. I encourage participants to do this because it reduces the number of individual or off-topic questions that can derail the whole group agenda.
3. At the end of the session. After a positive presentation, learners will want to thank you for your effort (and might inquire about how they can hire you for additional work!) Being available to shake hands, take selfies and thank people for their contributions will send participants off on a high note.
Once you have covered these times, you can feel guilt free about hiding out in the bathroom stall for a few quiet moments.
Find other tips for maximizing your presentation and facilitation skills in my book Caffeinated Learning, available in paper and on iBooks.
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Learning facilitators want to move their audiences. Sometimes we want them to move their knowledge and skills to a new level. Other times we want to move an audience to action. You can accomplish both of these more effectively if you get them physically moving, too. Try one, or all, of these simple strategies to get people moving.
1. Instead of handing out tasks, set up a “Mad Dash” board. Slip the tasks inside envelopes and post them on walls or chart stands around the room. Announce “1, 2, 3, Go!” and have participants dash and grab an envelope.
2. Post a sign in each of the four corners of the room marked A, B, C, D. Whenever you see that participants need to move, assign each letter a value such as never, rarely, sometimes and always. Pose a question and ask participants to move to that corner and talk with their group members.
(Laminate your signs so that you can easily use them over and over again!)
3. Add variety to the tired out “raise your hand if…” by asking participants to stand, thump their heart, snap their fingers, stomp their feet, high 5 a partner, put their arms up in a victory pose or post a sticky.
Adding movement will help to increase alertness and lead to better comprehension of your message. So what are you waiting for…get them moving!
For more ideas, check out Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Training.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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