A client asked me to accompany her to her first workshop this morning. Let me tell, it was difficult to agree to do so since today is Saturday. Remember that song, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? Well, that is me! But I agreed to sit in for a hefty fee because I also wanna have FUNDS…good-bye Stinson Beach hike and picnic!
Although her content was great, I felt that there was room for improvement in her facilitation skills and presentation skills. There are important things that should be paid attention to when we are conducting a training program to maximize a participant's learning experience. When I first began facilitating corporate workshops, I attended a series of classes under The Art of Facilitation umbrella. Following are three of the items the two of us will go over in our retrospection meeting next week:
As a facilitator, it is your responsibility to be aware of the momentum of your workshop. If you only focus on delivering information and data to your participants, you may find that you are only partially through your content by the end of chances are that by the end of the third, fourth or fifth hour. Pacing your workshop is a very important element.
It may help to look at the momentum like an accordion–some things will need to be expanded while other things will need to be contracted in order to stay within the time constraints of your workshop. One of the worst things that can happen from a participant's perspective is for them to realize they did not get through everything you promised in your agenda when you run out of time at the workshop's end. A facilitator must pace the process to ensure they deliver all the material that you promised.
The process is about the having the ability to take content and transfer it over so that the participants can own it. Some questions that you might find useful when you are designing a workshop are:
- What activities do you intend to use?
- How will you debrief those activities?
- How will you set it up so that participants feel successful?
- How will you create a positive environment so that participants are eager to open up?
- How will you get participants to commit to implementing what they just learned?
All of these issues are part of the process of learning and they are an essential piece in designing an effective workshop.
A facilitator must be aware of the vibration of the entire class. Think of it like taking your own pulse on your wrist. What is the energetic level of the participants at any given moment in the workshop? If they are all engaged in an activity and the energy is high, then you may want to allow that activity go on a bit longer.
It is important to note when there is a high energy level because then learning is taking place because people are engaged. Conversely, if you sense a lull in the workshop, notice what is going on. How can you get the energy level back up again? It is important that a facilitator gauge the energy of the participants and adjust as needed, rather than focusing just on getting though all the content.
So next time you plan to conduct a workshop, be sure to consider momentum, process and vibration.