Last year I had the pleasure of working with one of my favourite clients and we had a ball testing and running a one day sales workshop, twice.
Why did we have a ball? We were ready, really ready to nail the event both mentally and emotionally. Here’s what we did……
In Matt Syeds 2010 book Bounce he describes the conditions to nurture talent. They are:
I believe we went through these conditions in the three months before as we prepared (used our innate knowledge of selling and running an event), practised, gave and received feedback, fine-tuned our language and behaviours, held a mindset of possibility and growth, believed in ourselves and what we had designed.
What do you do when designing and delivering events or workshops? How do you identify with the conditions described by Matt Syed within your field of speciality?
This was the question posed to me by Krystyna Gadd and it got me thinking, is there a difference? What is it? What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?
Here are some simple definitions:
A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’
A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’
Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge. There may be a test to check understanding.
A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining. A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.
A quote I found suggests:
“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”
This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings). Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable? In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities.
When I started to facilitate I noticed I shifted inside. I learnt to trust the process I had designed. I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group. One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly. No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen. I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.
I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share. If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.
Briefing an exercise should be easy right? Yet how come it sometimes feels hard? People don’t seem to get it and spend time asking you questions for understanding and clarity?
A poorly briefed exercise can lead to time lost, a frustrated group, an irritated you and exercises executed poorly and not achieving the outcomes you intended.
We are responsible for our communication and the messages that the group receive. Therefore we need to ensure our communication is clear, rich in meaning and simple that everyone understands it.
Here are 5 things you can start to practise in your delivery.
1. The why, what and how
At the start of the brief explain to the group WHY the following exercise is of relevance. Join the dots to its meaning and relationship with the workshop. Then describe WHAT the objective of the exercise is. This gives people a headline to the final outcome. You do not have to tell them how to get there though. That is the learning part. Finally describe the HOW. Exactly how will the group experience the exercise. What is the structure, format and timing.
Miss one of these elements out and the group will ask you questions for clarification or understanding.
2. One step at a time
When briefing an exercise the temptation is to download what it is the group have to do at speed, with minimal pause for thought and breath. Describing from start to finish what the exercise is, how it will flow, how the debrief will happen and what it is you have to do.
This is a little overwhelming for people and information will be lost. Break down into steps what it is you are asking the group to do, invite the group to move, pick up a pen, find someone to work with. Deliberately pause to allow people time to action the request.
e.g. the exercise is to work in pairs, writing personal thoughts on individual post-it notes before sharing with the partner.
The temptation could be to say:
‘in pairs, pick up some post-it notes, write your own thoughts on the post-its then share with your partner what you wrote. You have 10 minutes to complete the exercise and then we will debrief back in plenary’
3. Model the behaviour
People listen with their eyes. People will watch what you do and follow your instructions. Model what it is you are asking the group to do and they will do it. Be big and bold in your actions and movements. You need to think about what you do with your hands, arms and your body. Don’t be shy – give it a try!
Lets use the example from above.
4. Write it on a poster
Some people listen, some people watch and some people read. Help yourself by writing the instructions on a flipchart before the workshop starts.
Refer to the flipchart and instructions as you explain and model the exercise.
Place the instructions flipchart on a wall where everyone can see it.
Replace the instructions flipchart as the exercises change, use the same wall position. People will get used to looking at that position on the wall for the instructions. This is called spatial anchoring.
5. Ask a question
Having gone through steps 1 to 4 the group should be with you and understand WHAT it is they are about to do, WHY they are doing it and HOW it is going to happen.
A fail safe action is to ask the group to repeat back what it is they have to do – especially if it is a complex activity.
Be firm, be louder in your voice, a tone of enquiry
‘What is it we are going to do? Step 1………’
Debriefing exercises is part of the way to aid learning transfer and enable the learner or group to form their own thoughts and ideas.
Some things to think about:
Your prep is done, the agenda is scoped, the invites sent and the location booked. You are all ready for your workshop, meeting or learning session. Or are you?
What kit are you taking with you? What is the client providing? What is the location giving you?
This is what I carry in my kit bag.
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