Last week I was leading a three-day conference for a group of about 100 dedicated professionals in West Virginia. Just before our start time on the second day, I was approached by one of the participants who told me she had a problem.
The night before, she had been approached in the parking lot by a homeless couple with a 4 week old puppy that they couldn’t afford to take care of. Given her big heart, she couldn’t bring herself to say no. Thus, her problem. She wanted to attend the conference, but couldn’t leave the puppy alone.
Her question for me – “Is it okay if I bring the puppy to your session?”
My husband has frequently heard me say “Now, I’ve seen it all as a presenter,” and yet this was a first for me. But if it’s not puppies, it might be babies, children, leaving a cell phone ringer on, knitting, standing up, taking photos or other unusual requests.
My mind quickly scrolled through a list of criteria for making a decision.
If the answer to all 3 questions is “no,” then go ahead and give permission.
If the answer to any question is “yes,” consider an alternative that would solve the problem.
The puppy stayed with us, in a container, with an agreement that she would take it outside if it began to bark. Everyone’s needs were met, including the dog!
How would you have answered her question? What thought process do you go through to insure that your participants have a distraction-free environment?
For more ideas on group management and conducting classes for adult learners, 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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