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The Master Facilitator
Journal | Issue #0029 | November 27, 2001
Presence and Presenting Skill
Understand the basics of
Your participant's body language
never lies and can tell you a lot if you know what to
look for. Of course, as facilitators, we know better than to
assume anything. So as you become adept at reading body language,
be careful not to use this information to fuel your assumptions.
Consequently, our first tip is to always test your observations
of body language to increase awareness. If participants appear bored, angry, or frustrated, then they probably are!
But always check this out with them first just to be sure. For example, you
might say, "I'm noticing that many of you are slouching and
fidgeting in your chairs, will someone please share with me what
you're experiencing right now?" If you sense that a
body is telling you something, check in with the person to find
out what it is.
This leads to examining the congruence between
body language and verbal language. For
example, laughing while describing a very painful experience is
incongruent behavior and should be checked out with
participants. This incongruence indicates that something is
The "movement" aspects of Body Language can provide clues about how one conducts
other aspects of their lives, i.e. patterns of behavior that
they might not be consciously aware of.
It's also important to be attuned to cultural differences in body language that could
be present among your participants. So as always, when in doubt,
check out your perceptions with your participants.
Finally, it pays for you to be conscious of the power of your own body language to engage the audience. For instance, use open posture; stand where you can be seen by all; when you move, move deliberately and for a purpose; use gestures to strengthen or enhance your communication; don't use podiums or other objects to hide behind; make regular eye contact with everyone; and be expressive, amplifying what you are feeling and saying with your facial expressions and your body gestures.
We've included a link to a simple
activity we've found extremely valuable in the past called the
"A to B
Exercise." It's a great deal of fun and can be
conducted with one participant at a time, or the entire group to
catch group patterns. Using only the language of physical
movement, it provides great clues as to how we run our lives.
Both effective and ineffective patterns may become evident
through this exercise.
We've also included some body
language tips, both positive and negative, courtesy of the Third
Age Website, that you can use as facilitators. Look for
these ques and check them out in your groups, or use them yourself
to improve your presentations.
eye contact (no staring)
open smile (teeth revealed)
inclusive gestures (palms showing)
but relaxed posture
hand clasp handshake
flash upon greeting
contact not met
or no smile
and away or dropped glances
fully facing, at an angle
crossed or Legs
outstretched while seated
assignment this week is to practice observing body
language--that of others and your own. We're
interested in hearing what you discover. Please email
us about your experiences or if there's something we've missed,
we'd love to get your perspective on it!
What do you do in your role as a Facilitator to build your group's trust, 1) between members, and 2) of you as the
We'd appreciate your thoughts
on the above question or anything you know about trust-building that might be valuable for other readers to know. We may
use your responses as a resource for future issues of the
journal or for other works. Please email
us your responses. All those who respond
will be sent the entire collection of responses. Thanks so much for your consideration of my request.
Thanks for your help in making the Master
the best facilitation resource site on the web!
We thought you might
enjoy this fun
Body Language Quiz at the Third
Age Website. It's a fun 14-question quiz that has you look
at your probable body language responses in a party atmosphere.
Then it gives your "body language style" and offers
tips you can use to make it more effective. Though the intent of
this site is to improve your attractiveness to the opposite sex,
the information is useful in understanding the impact and
interpretation of body language.
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Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to
reach their full potential in their business and
personal lives. Please email
your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. Or call me at
800-216-3854. I'd love to hear
from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it
to your friends.
Thanks for reading!
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