Every facilitator sets up the presentation table differently. I like to arrange mine so that it is perpendicular to the audience. This prevents me from getting stuck behind it, with the table forming a psychological and physical barrier.
I also have several items on my table that I organize before participants arrive. As you can see from the photo, there are several personal care items (Kleenex, mints, lipstick), a few noisemakers for grabbing attention, my notes and the necessary technology. But the following 3 items are Must Haves:
1. Small, digital clock
An effective facilitator keeps track of the time without drawing audience attention to it. If you look at your watch, people in your audience may notice and become aware of the time. You don’t want this! Instead, you want your audience to be pleasantly surprised at how quickly time has flown by when you announce the break. By keeping a small clock on the table, I can easily glance at it without anyone noticing.
2. Water bottle with lid
Nervousness can lead to a dry mouth and rapid breathing. Taking a drink of water can calm your nerves by regulating your breathing and giving you a mini-break to think. But an open glass of water can lead to disaster – spilled all over your notes and technology! Keep a bottle with the lid on all times.
3. Cheat sheet(s)
In addition to my presentation notes, I keep one or two ‘cheat sheets’ on my table (in this photo, the pink card.) These usually represent a new skill that I am working on or something I find difficult to remember. For example, I recently realized that I might overuse the word “favorite” when I am sharing strategies with my participants, so I created a ‘cheat sheet’ of synonyms so that I can be more precise in my language. Some facilitators keep a cheat sheet of ways to handle difficult participants. Whatever skill you’d like to improve – it’s okay to ‘cheat!’
What essential items do you keep on your presentation table?
For more ideas on conducting an effective learning experience for adults, check out my book Caffeinated Learning.
Reflection has 9 different definitions on the Merriam-Webster site, but the phrase that popped out at me was "a transformation of a figure"
Researchers Silver, Strong and Perini (2007) list the ability to reflect on one’s learning progress as one of the most important skills a learner can have. In other words, it might just be transformational. Quiet reflection time, whether written or contemplative, private or shared, allows the learner to apply new information to their prior knowledge and experiences, thus making stronger long-term connections.
Judy Willis, neurologist and university professor, explains that learners who set goals and reflect on their own growth have an increase in dopamine levels. Dopamine is one of the brain’s neurotransmitters that causes us to have improved memory, increased focus and perseverance.
These benefits are enough to make reflection a key component of any training, but one more advantage takes this delivery method to the top of the list: no prep! Simply provide participants with a specific reflective prompt and a few quiet moments to think and write.
Be sure to make reflection a “low-risk” activity by allowing adults to choose whether or not they would like to share their reflections with others.
Whenever possible, arrange for someone else to quiet down the audience and review details such as where to find coffee and how to access the restrooms. After these details, allow the person to introduce you.
Many presenters shy away from being introduced, feeling more comfortable telling their own story. They worry that it seems pretentious. It is not pretentious; it’s smart. Another person can establish your credibility in a way that is difficult to do for yourself. Another person can laud you for all you have accomplished, letting the audience know how lucky they are to have you as their speaker for the day. You stand nearby, looking humble, ready to begin with an attention-grabbing opening.
It also gives your client the opportunity to look good for bringing in someone with national, expert credentials. It sends the message to the audience that management is serious about supporting this new learning initiative.
To make the most of an introduction, prepare a simple bio that highlights the points you feel are most critical for your audience to know about you, and carry a few printed copies with you. Depending on your work, you might have several different versions for different audiences.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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