Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0244, February 21, 2006 ....

Dear friends,

I've supported Sue Walden in delivering her Improvisational Facilitator teleclass several times over the past year. One of the exercises we do that seems to affect me the most is the "Voice Mirror." This exercise is profound in many ways. One of the biggest learnings from this exercise is that we don't have to "think" to listen effectively. Yes, you heard me right. Thinking is not required. In fact, our thinking gets in the way of us fully listening and relating to others. Let me know what you "think" of this concept as you review the article below. Then join us next week for a 5-day teleclass where we'll discuss and practice this and a number of other provocative skills for facilitators, trainers, leaders, and speakers.

Improv Skills Solve Facilitator's Greatest Fears!
A strong statement? Perhaps. And I've found the improv skills taught by Sue Walden in this 5-day teleclass, "The Improvisational Facilitator," to be life changing whether you apply them to facilitation or to any other endeavor that involves relating to others, to yourself, and to your own creativity. We'll present powerful, practical improv techniques you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills. This class is highly interactive, uses many innovative experiential activities that will surely surprise you, and always receives rave reviews. Come join us the week of February 27th. Register by tomorrow, February 15th for a $10 discount. Click here for details.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis


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The Point

Using the Voice Mirror to Listen Without Thinking

Sharpen your presence by listening without thinking.

Group Process Skill

Our modern society has a love affair with thoughts and thinking. And for good reason. For without them, there'd be some pretty big voids in our world. Where would education be? How about science, engineering, economics, and politics? So many pillars of our culture rest on the advances we've made in our thoughts about things that it's no wonder we value them so much.

Any strength, if overused, can become a liability. I believe this is also true of this tool we call "thinking." I believe that many of the ailments that plague modern society come not only from an increase in environmental stressors, but also from our response to them. As the pace picks up and our thinking becomes more complex, it become that much more difficult to quiet our minds--a common complaint made by many people today.

As it turns out, with all this thinking and the wonderful thinks that thinking has created for us, we begin to believe that if we stop, thinking that is, the world will stop with it. In a sense, that may be true, and that's a subject for another article. For now, however, consider how much thinking grass or trees engage in. Yet see how they thrive in the proper environments. They seem to "know" what to "do" to grow and evolve with the little thinking they do. In fact, what if "thinking" actually gets in the way of our growth?

Let's take listening for example. A skill of primary importance to facilitators and group leaders. When we're listening to someone and our minds are chattering away thinking of what you're going to say next or what we just had for lunch, how well are we really listening?

Is it possible to listen without thinking?
Or is listening simply the act of "not talking." I think real listening is about presence. And thinking impedes your presence.

Rather than waxing theoretical any further on this subject, which would just engage you in more thinking, let me leave you with an exercise to try on your own to get an experience of listening without thinking. The exercise below is called the "Voice Mirror." My friend and colleague, Sue Walden, introduced this to me last year. It one of many skills she teaches in our Improvisational Facilitator teleclass.


The Voice Mirror

The “Voice Mirror is a key tool to helping you stay attentive when listening to others, especially with the numerous distractions and demands in your environment--not to mention the distractions inside your head. The “Voice Mirror” provides a method for tuning out you expectations, assumptions and past history, which interrupts your ability to be present and to listen. Here is how you can learn the technique:

STEP 1. Turn on a radio talk show or the television. Select one voice and begin whispering the words of the speaker at the same time the speaker says them, matching them word for word. (This is mirroring, not mimicking, repeating or echoing.)

STEP 2. As you become more comfortable practicing this, drop the sound and continue to move your mouth, matching/mirroring the words.

STEP 3. Eventually, move the mirror into your mind, so that your thoughts match word-for-word (without external sound or movement) what the speaker is saying. Practice both with eyes open and eyes closed.

Don’t rush through these steps—this type of focused listening is not an easy habit to acquire and will take effort and practice. Until you learn how to do it “silently” (in your head), you may want to continue your practice privately with the radio or television.

After you are comfortable with this new tool, you can use it any time you feel your mind start to chatter or wander. Most people find they only need to “Voice Mirror” for 15 to 30 seconds to tune right back in to the speaker.

Note: Exercise submitted by Sue Walden, Founder and Director of ImprovWorks, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building Life Skills through Improvisation. See her full bio below near the bottom of this issue.


After practicing the above exercise, practice the voice mirror while listening to a friend or colleague. What happened for you? How was this a different listening experience for you? I'm curious to hear what you discovered.
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In the Spotlight

The Improvisational Facilitator

Are you afraid of encountering the
unexpected in your groups?

Learn improv techniques to deal with this and many other concerns encountered by facilitators, trainers, and group leaders

Do you encounter any of these problems when working with groups?

1. Do you take your work with groups way too seriously? So seriously that sometimes you get uptight and afraid about what might happen. In this class, you'll learn and practice tools that will help you relax and have a lot more fun with your groups.
2. Are you afraid of encountering the unexpected? Learn simple strategies that will help you to be more open and flexible to the specific and dynamic needs of your groups.
. Are you bothered when participants try to take the group off on a tangent? Be able to connect whatever people share to the group purpose or theme.
4. Do you have a tough time being "present" with your groups, trying to juggle all that needs to be done? Learn and practice strategies that will let you take a breath and get comfortable being "in the moment" with your groups..
5. Do you ever fear that you'll "lose your place" in your workshop? In this class, you'll learn exactly what to do in that circumstance.
6. Is "speaker's block" a problem? You'll learn a tool so that you never have speaker's block again.
7. Do you sometimes question your creative abilities? Discover reservoirs of creativity within you that you didn't know existed.
8. Do you often feel like you're doing this group leadership think all alone? Come collaborate and learn from a community of your peers, all passionate about empowering groups.

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then read on. You'll find help overcoming these issues and more in this dynamic 5-day teleclass.

February 27th-March 3rd, 2006, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time), 75 minutes each day.

A week after the course I have found myself talking about and actually using the techniques taught! The experiential based learning really worked for me and I learnt whilst having fun – always a good way to retain new learnings. The course has provided me with a toolkit of great techniques to improve my own facilitation, as well as some enjoyable exercises to use with delegates. I have nothing but praise for both Sue and Steve, who walked their talk with their own facilitation skills – they simply flowed through the course with grace and intelligence. The content, the materials and the facilitators is 5 star stuff and I highly recommend it to any facilitator.
--Amanda Alexander, Coach and Founder of

The Improvisational Facilitator Teleclass...
The inner attitudes of facilitators, trainers, and leaders is the key to their success with groups. However, very few trainings address the development of those inner qualities that can make a good leader great. That's why I'm thrilled to be offering this class where we'll present powerful, practical improv techniques that are actually inner attitudes and practices that you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills.

This dynamic teleclass, led by master trainer, Sue Walden, is for anyone who facilitates, manages, teaches, mediates, coaches, counsels, directs any group. This highly interactive course provides an experiential approach using very novel exercises to help you build the skills to create an environment for participation; one that encourages openness and risk-taking for you and groups.

February 27th-March 3, 2006, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time), 75 minutes each day.

Improvisational Facilitator Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the course...

Being present to your natural creativity

  • Overview
  • Introducing the Parking Lot
  • Awareness experience
  • What is your default facilitation skill set?
  • Improv Core Skills that support facilitation
  • Exploring 1st Core Skill: Present Time
  • The "Voice Mirror," a simple and powerful listening tool
  • Facilitation Applications

Building the "muscle" that encourages participation

  • Check in on practice assignment
  • Explore 2nd Core Skill: Openness
  • Experiencing the look and feel of openness
  • Building the openness “muscle”
  • The "Yes and..." approach
  • Facilitation Applications

Making flexibility a way of being

  • Check in about practice assignment
  • Explore 3rd Core Skill: Flexibility
  • Combining Being Present and Open to become more flexible
  • Identify unexpected challenges in facilitating
  • Building the options and possibilities “muscle”
  • Facilitation Applications

Witnessing the magic

  • Check in about practice assignment
  • Introduce “The Observer”
  • Apply Core Skills to self
  • Getting present with self
  • Quiet the inner critic
  • Think on your feet
  • Be aware of your language
  • Facilitation Applications

Further applications and applied Improv

  • Check in about practice assignment
  • Explore other applications of Improv Core Skills
  • Emptying the Parking Lot
  • Q & A with the Applied Improv Process

I've been to lots of teleclasses but have never done offline partner exercises like this and they worked great, they really heightened the learning. Excellent resource book.

The sessions were very complimentary to the skills that I have gained over a number of years. As well as practical exercises the trainers provided useful insight to support their theory. It was enlightening to hear everybody participate and be engaged in the subject. An excellent class that I highly recommend. --Chris Whitehead ,Managing Director of Facilitating Change--

How the Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for a 75-90 minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. Several times we will leave the bridge line for short 8-12 minute periods to give you the opportunity to engage in short exercises with a partner to practice and deepen your skills.
3. You work through a learning/resource workbook which accompanies the class including practice assignments after each session.
4. You will have the opportunity to discuss issues on the subject matter with the instructors and your classmates via an online listserve during the course.
5. During the course, you may access the instructors via email for help or situational questions.

Also included with your training...
In addition to the training described above, you also receive:
1. Free Learning/Resource Workbook ($20 value) to help you drill down deep and master the art of improv for use in facilitation, training, leadership, and group work.
2. Free access to the RealAudio version of the training ($69 value).
3. Free pre-recorded one-hour real audio teleclass, "The Art of Improv in Facilitation, featuring Izzy Gesell, who discusses the use of humor and improvisational theater techniques as facilitation tools.($20 value).
4. Articles and resources around using Improv in leadership and facilitation:
- Collection of humor and improv resources.
__- The Six Paradoxes of Improv. Six paradoxes that will help free you to be a better facilitator
____and trainer.
__- Leadership Through Improv. Article on how Improv techniques can be applied to leadership.

The full cost of training/access is only $99 including the free items ( worth $109) listed above. Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.

Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free article bank. This course is limited to 20 individuals on a first come basis.

I really enjoyed the Improv class. Great material, excellent delivery including the opportunities to "try it out" in partner settings. --Sandy Brown, Facilitator, Intel Corporation--

February 27th-March 3, 2006, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time), 75 minutes each day.


Click above to register

Self-Guided Real Audio Version
If you'd like to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule, you can purchase the real audio version of this teleclass complete with the learning guide. You'll be provided with access to recorded offerings of the five-hour teleclass (5 hours total) that you can listen to online and follow along in the learning guide is used in the live class. Click here to purchase for $69.

(Real Audio Only)

Click here to purchase the
Real Audio Version for $69

Self-Guided 5-Day CD Version
The Compact Disk (CD) version comes with all of the self-guided features listed above, together with 5 CD's you'll receive by mail that you can listen to anywhere you have access to a CD player. Click here to purchase for $79.

(CD's and Real Audio Only)

Click here to purchase the CD Version for $79
plus $4 Shipping and Handling Membership Option

Become a member of premium member and register for this teleclass at half price in addition to a host of other items and benefits. An exceptional value. Click here for details.

One-Day Live Version

Interested in a four-day "live" version of this class offered to your group? Email us to discuss options.

Your instructors

Sue Walden. Sue Walden is the Founder and Director of ImprovWorks, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building Life Skills through Improvisation. Her experience includes a BA in Education and 26 years of teaching, performing and adapting and widely applying the techniques of improvisation. She approaches improv training as a powerful and joyful way to peel away constraints, restraints and inhibitions, allowing the naturally expressive, collaborative and creative self to emerge.

Sue is a skilled teacher in ImprovWorks' public workshop program, a dynamic corporate facilitator, an engaging speaker, an author (Working with Groups to Enhance Relationships, Whole Person Assoc.), the delightful "Playmeister" of both the public and corporate Recess! programs, the director and a regular performer with San Francisco's longest-running improvisational theater company, "Flash Family". She has been a member of the Specialty Staff for the year-long Co-Active Leadership Program since its inception eight years ago.

Her current passion is training trainers and consulting on how to design powerful experiential workshops. Sue promises that, in any of her programs, while the learning may be challenging, it will also be fun!

Steve Davis. Steve Davis, M.A., M.S., is an Facilitator's Coach, Infoprenuer, and free-lance human, helping facilitators, organizational leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their under-performing groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their business online and offline.

Steve spends most of his time building and running He also publishes a weekly ezine for facilitators called, the Master Facilitator Journal, continues to write ebooks, design teleclasses, and maintain a part-time coaching practice. His breadth of experience spans business, corporate management, engineering, teaching, spiritual psychology, and wellness, offering a pragmatic yet creative coaching foundation. To learn more about Steve, visit his website at

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.

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