Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0524, January 31, 2012

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Dear Friends,








Available distractions in facilitation and training environments are on the rise with the ubiquitous use of smartphones these days. I consistently hear challenges leaders have getting their participants to focus on the meeting versus being distracted by their laptops, cell phones, blackberries, and other culprits of multitasking. In this week's article, Can You Pass the Blackberry Test?, we explore how we can use these distractions to make us better group leaders.

This Week's Special: Two Self-Guided Teleclasses for the price of one. Check out our full collection of self-guided, pre-recorded teleclasses complete with learning guides at the end of this issue. Great for gifts or for your own professional development on your own time.


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Blessings,

Steve Davis

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The Point


Can You Pass the Blackberry Test?
A new look at attention competition.


Self-Facilitation Skill

Available distractions in facilitation and training environments are on the rise with the ubiquitous use of smartphones these days. I consistently hear challenges leaders have getting their participants to focus on the meeting versus being distracted by their laptops, cell phones, blackberries, and other culprits of multitasking.

My thinking on this problem was expanded recently when I came across an article by Mary Boone, President of Boone Associates called ROM: Return on Meetings. One of the points Mary cites in her article is "
The Blackberry Test." Here's how she describes it.

Participants in all sizes of meetings are often so wrapped up in what's going on outside the meeting that it's hard to engage them, even with the best performers or the most polished speakers. And a meeting can't possibly be strategic unless people are engaged. The bottom line is, if you can't pass the "Blackberry Test," you aren't getting good ROM (Return on Meetings). What's the Blackberry Test? If more than 5% of your audience are scrolling their Blackberries (or smartphones) during the meeting, you've failed.

The next time you're tempted to say "Turn off your Blackberries and cellphones!" ask yourself: "Have we done all we can to make sure that this meeting is highly strategic, interactive, and directly relevant to participants?" Take the challenge to make the meetings at your organization more engaging and interactive. If you step up to the plate, you and the business leaders you serve will experience true ROM.

Mary's comments helped me change my perspective. The increasing number of distractions in our lives certainly do make it tougher to engage people. But is that such a bad thing? While these "distractions" compete with that increasingly scarce commodity...our attention, they also have the potential of making us more productive.

The days when a mediocre lecturer could captivate a 20th century audience for hours are gone. Today, those seeking to attract and hold the attention of their audiences must be more compelling than the distractions. So in a way, participant distractions can make us better...Facilitators, Trainers, Speakers, and Presenters...if we let them. How? Let's take a stab at that.



Application


Do I still have your attention? You see, we can just tell it like it is anymore. We've got to tell it with FEELING! Try these ideas on to turn your thinking on the blackberry dilemma.

The problem isn't them, it's you.
I know, I don't like the sound of that either, but it's largely true. If we're not keeping our group's attention, we've got to quit thinking that this is a problem with "them." We've got to own it as ours. If we're not commanding the attention and engagement of our group, we've got to do something differently.

The great quickening.
Did you know that "quickening" is defined as the first time you feel your baby move--a long anticipated event in every pregnancy? I had no idea that's what was coming when I wrote this tagline a moment ago. It just "felt" like the right word and I thought, "What the hell, go look it up on Google and see what comes out."

So, you've got to feel "your baby" move when you're leading your groups. While this may be a metaphorical "stretch," it's that kind of enthusiasm you've got to be feeling for your audience to, well, frankly, give a damn! If what you're doing doesn't summon your own energy, it won't draw others in. Go back to drawing board or step it up a notch.

Get on with it! If there's one thing people hate more than meetings, it's s..l..o...w meetings. Don't stretch your meeting to fit into the token hour or two allocated for it. Get it moving and keep it moving at a crisp pace. Keep people on target, and don't waste time. Get it done so that people can get what they need and get back to business.

Name the elephant. If people are simply so distracted by other work that they can't offer enough attention to keep the meeting afloat, either cancel it or shift the focus to "focus" issue. Find out what if anything people need to get themselves fully engaged in the room. There's no better focus for a training or meeting than the very immediate impediments people are having to working in the present, right here, and right now with their peers.

Add Your Comments


Action

Has this article changed your mind about the Blackberry problem? I'd love to hear from you. Just click on Add Your Comments to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.


This Week's Offer

Self-Guided Programs...Single and Multi-User Programs

Popular FacilitatorU Teleclasses now available in MP3 Formats, complete with downloadable learning guides. Buy two of our 5-day teleclass packages for the price of one this week! Just enter "workshops" at checkout to receive your discount.

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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. Click here for details
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Becoming a Learning Facilitator--Self-Guided Audio Versions
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Check out our growing collection of pre-recorded, one-hour teleclasses with experts discussing a key skill area important to group workers. Each recording is available in MP3 audio, comes with class notes, and several relevant bonuses. Click here for titles and details.

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