Facilitator Journal | Issue #0385, Mar 17, 2009
Are you too smart for your own good? Read this week's
article to find out, where we explore the dilemma of the professional
speaker or seminar leader placed in the front of the room
and expected to be the font of all knowledge. Take a minute to unravel this fallacy with us and
release yourself from much unnecessary burden.
Check out our new
Facilitator Guide bundle. We're offering a package deal on our popular Getting Full Participation and Intervene With Confidence Facilitator Guides. See details after the article and consider adding these information-packed
guides to your personal Facilitator's Toolkit.
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You Too Smart for Your Own Good?
Speakers and seminar leaders
don't need to know everything.
Group Dynamics Skill
attend workshops, seminars, and speaking engagements
where the presenter seems compelled to talk at the audience.
Though I do believe they're expressing a sincere desire to
teach, enlighten, and inform others with the best
of intentions, how often have you actually been inspired by
shear quantities of information?
I don't give "speeches" anymore. When I'm asked
to give one on a topic I feel comfortable with, I accept but
when introduced as the speaker, I love to twist that perception
a bit. I've been know to say, "Yes I'm going to stand in front of the
room today, but I don't plan to be your speaker. Instead,
I hope to serve you better by being your listener." The
rebel in me revels in this!
I sincerely believe that my success as a "speaker,"
facilitator, trainer, teacher, whatever, rests more in my
ability to hear what people need and to create an environment
where they can get that from whoever
can best deliver it at the time.
Now of course, if I've shown up for a speaking gig in the hopes
of getting lots of attention and ceremonious fluffing of my
expert ego, I certainly wouldn't employ the above approach.
But if I want to respond to the interests of the audience, then I'm going to
continually refocus my attention on them. We're going to have
discussions, demonstrations, and exercises and only enough
focus on me to maintain the energy of focused connection and
involvement among the participants.
I remember once attending a workshop with an energetic healer
and her husband, a psychologist, who were offering a new technique to assist
people to return to their essence, and to lessen the influence
of their personality and coping mechanisms that they had developed
I was most interested in the topic, and they had a lot of
information to share, they almost lost me. There was very little
interaction or none at all as they talked for over an hour
about their mysterious techniques. It was apparent that
most everyone there was puzzled and trying to figure out
what it was all about. They kept asking but the explanation
got more and more obscure and it felt as we were being marketed
Finally, during the 30 minutes of the 2-hour presentation,
they offered an opportunity for everyone to have a short
reading. Lo and behold, the seminar picked up strength,
everyone started asking questions and were very involved.
It was evident now through their work on us that they were
quite talented and had something to offer that all the words
in the world would never have conveyed. Several people even
signed up for individual work afterwards.
do people insist on telling us when they can show us? Maybe
it's just the way that we were taught, or maybe it's just
the best way we know. Whenever you get the chance, teach
people a facilitation tip that will make their presentations
more powerful and engaging with less effort.
Tips to Engaging Participation
- If you have the choice between showing and telling,
show first, tell later. Then people know and feel what
you're talking about. Also takes a lot of pressure off of
you to entertain. Once you impact people with a physical
or emotional experience, they'll have lots to tell themselves.
- Talk to your audience. Ask them more about themselves
and what they're interested in learning at the beginning
and adjust your approach accordingly.
- Don't talk so much. Check in with your audience
periodically and see what they have to say about what you're
saying. Are they getting it? Do they have something to add
that can amplify or validate your point?
- Get them talking to each other. Use simple methods
to get participants talking to one another about their experiences,
what they're learning, what they want, etc. This brings
more energy and attention to the group, can mine new perspectives,
and can improve the experience for everyone.
Can you relate to
the situation above? Is there something about your presentation
style you'd like to change or improve upon? Is there someone
you know who might benefit from a facilitative tip you could
I'd love to hear from you. Send me your experiences and ideas by replying to this email.
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