Facilitation Tips

This is a re-post of the Training Tip of the Week from the 4-H Thrive Monday Morning Memo.  The purpose of this section is to give the 4H-Thrive Master Trainers practical facilitation tools to aid them in the training of their leaders.

  1. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #14–12 Most Successful Tips to Manage Presentation Nervousness
    By Claudyne Wilder

    Does your heart work overtime and your memory go blank when you speak in front of people? You can change that with good habits and discipline. But it takes work. Your first task is to find ways to calm and energize yourself at the same time. You want to be a relaxed and enthusiastic presenter. Look through the list below and pick two tips you can begin to cultivate as habits right now. Guarantee your presentation success with diligent, consistent efforts!

    1. Recognize your skill level and get the coaching you need
    The next time you have an important presentation for an internal meeting or key clients, consider what you really need to be successful and then seek out the appropriate coaching. Go over your talk with several colleagues and your boss, or take an intensive two-day presentation workshop that raises your skills to the next level. By recognizing and respecting your skill level, you’ll set yourself up for success, not failure.

    2. Don’t create many extra notes to use when presenting
    If you have both a PowerPoint slide and notes to look at, you are going to spend less time focused on the audience and probably too much time giving a “data dump” presentation. Trying to read your extra notes will distract you from engaging the audience and getting their comments and feedback.

    3. Don’t over-prepare and under-rehearse
    Yes it’s critical to have the appropriate content, but don’t work on content so much that you neglect rehearsal. You must leave sufficient time to rehearse – which may include practicing in front of a colleague or your boss to get their feedback before the real presentation.

    4. Rehearse out loud as if a real audience is listening to you
    A real rehearsal is not talking in your car, thinking about your presentation in the shower or reviewing it mentally while walking around. The most powerful and useful way to prepare is to stand up and go through the whole talk as if your audience is there with you. And time it! If you use PowerPoint, use the slide show>rehearse timings feature.

    5. Visualize your success
    Many people do a visualization run-through after their out-loud real rehearsal. They watch themselves walk in front of the audience, take calm relaxing breaths, open the talk, speak calmly with pauses and close the talk. Here’s a YouTube clip on visualization techniques:

    6. Exercise the day before or day of your presentation
    If you have a tendency to be on the anxious side, then exercise the day before and the morning of your talk. Exercise calms most people, relieving stress and anxiety as it increases energy. It also helps you sleep.

    7. Get enough sleep
    Don’t stay up half the night working on your presentation and think you will do a great delivery job the next day. You need your sleep to feel energized and engaged with your audience. If you’re too wound up and have trouble sleeping, here are some solutions to try:
    -Learn to meditate
    -Consult a nutritionist to find out what’s missing in your diet that doesn’t let you sleep. For example, when I travel and eat protein every three to four hours, I sleep very well.

    8. Practice positive self-talk
    Be your own best coach before you start talking. Don’t say to yourself, “You look tired today. You really don’t know this content like some of the experts in the audience. You shouldn’t be talking.” Instead say to yourself, “You did an excellent real rehearsal last night. You practiced answering the tough questions with your boss and will be able to handle any that come. You have a wonderful opportunity today, so enjoy it.”

    9. Breathe deeply and consciously
    “Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders,” says Dr. Andrew Weil. He suggests trying these three breathing exercises. According to Dr. Weil, one of these exercises is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system – just what you need if you have an attack of nerves during your presentation.

    10. Focus your attention on the audience
    Pay more attention to your audience when you are speaking and less on giving yourself an ongoing critique of how you are doing. An outward focus will reduce the strength of that inner critic. Keep asking yourself, “What does the audience need to know right now? Shall I invite comments and questions now?”

    11. Be present, not perfect
    If you have to say the perfect word in a perfect sentence, you may get an A for diligence but will get a D on audience connection. Give yourself permission to be sincere and enthusiastic. It’s not about giving the presentation just as you practiced it. It’s about being present in the moment and crafting the words for that audience right then and there.

    12. Recuperate constantly
    The test of a professional presenter is not to do everything perfectly. The test is to recuperate from any problem that comes up. If someone is rude or aggressively critical, the presenter handles the person and goes on. If there’s a surprise comment, the presenter takes it in stride. Most audiences don’t mind mistakes, but they do as easily forget your inability to recuperate from it. Your task is to recuperate from the unexpected and go on being even more dynamic and confident than before.

    Almost anyone can become a proficient, relaxed speaker. To get to that stage, you must start engaging in habits that will relax you, give you confidence and provide the foundation so you can feel, act and sound in charge when speaking. Start today.
    Which tip will you begin with?

  2. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #13 Make Sure the Rubber Meets the Road

    As a facilitator it is critical that we connect what we are talking about with our current lives. Otherwise participants leave a little smarter, rather than with changed lives. So whatever it is you’re discussing, make sure to end with some application questions.
    Here are some examples:
    -So what in the world does that have to do with our lives today?
    -How can you change your perspective from today regarding that issue?
    -What one thing can you do differently in this next week to start applying what you learned? Some facilitators will add accountability to this question– ask participants to record what responses and ask them to report back the next week. Another great technique is to ask participants to write themselves a letter with their strategies and put the letter in a self-addressed, sealed envelope. Then at some future date, the facilitator puts those letters in the mail for the participant to self-reflect.

  3. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #12 Debrief Yourself!

    One of the most important things that you can do after a training event is to carve out time as a team to reflect on the training. When I debrief an event with my team, we usually carve out time immediately following the event or within a day or two while things are still fresh and go through each aspect of the training. Here are a few thoughts about debriefing:

    1. Reflect on each section of your training.
    2. Allow those who facilitated the specific piece to begin, followed by input from others.
    3. Start with what went well and then move to what you would change.
    4. Have someone capture the key responses.
    5. Implement change and revisit notes before the next training.

  4. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #11 Seven Preparation Habits of Highly Effective Trainers

    Before any kind of learning event, from team meetings to professional development workshops, the facilitator must take care of some basics before it begins. The degree to which the following items are prepared could affect the outcome of the workshop, meeting or training.
    1. Survey the location before the session to ensure there is adequate lighting, disability access, parking (if the session is off site), bathrooms, etc.
    2. Check to make sure that the space and lighting are adequate.
    3. Be certain that all supplies are ready to go.
    4. Check equipment to make sure everything is working and correctly placed.
    5. Arrange the room to maximize learning.
    6. Be certain that all participants receive pre-training notification and reminders as well as pre-training readings and handouts (this includes an agenda).
    7. Know your participants before the training begins. Know their educational backgrounds, ages, experience, interests, titles and roles, and their developmental needs.

  5. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #10 How to Handle Different Participants

    As a facilitator, you will come across many different type of participants. Below are a few suggestions on how to deal with different types to keep all of the learning community engaged.

    For dominant talkers (people who talk too often):

    ·Withdraw eye contact

    ·Shift attention, “Thanks, ______, now I would like to hear how the rest of you feel about..”

    For shy people:

    ·Make eye contact

    ·Ask that everyone (or a whole section of the table) respond to a question

    ·Call on the person by name for a response

    For rambling types (people who talk for long periods of time):

    ·Withdraw eye contact after the talk gets boring

    ·Turn slightly away from the speaker

    ·Do not take notes or reinforce the talk in any way

    ·At a pause, say, “Thank you,____, now I want to get some other people to jump in here on this question.” Repeat the question, if necessary to pull thefocus back.

    ·(Rarely) Interrupt. “Excuse me, ________. I’m sorry to have to interrupt you, but I see other people would also like to answer this question and I want to make sure they have time.” Then repeat the question.

    For those who are disrespectful, refer back to the agreements.
    If someone is not respecting the group and refuses to tone things down, it may be appropriate to ask them to leave (if possible at break time).

  6. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #9 Expect the Unexpected
    by Deborah McGlauflin

    A good facilitator leaves plenty of room for the unexpected! The facilitator should have a “Plan B” for each session which takes into account that things may not go as planned. This is particularly important when working with tight time-frames. In such situations, it is easy for the best laid plans to go quickly astray, if time is lost because a speaker drops his/her notes, or is on crutches and takes a long time to get to the podium, or a PowerPoint presentation doesn’t cue up properly, or a projector light bulb burns out, or the electricity goes out, or a fire alarm goes off. Expect the unexpected and have a back-up plan- a way you’ve planned in advance where you can make a small change and gain back 5-10 lost minutes. For example, if you’re behind schedule going into small group discussions with planned report backs from each group, be ready to switch to either calling selectively on just one or two groups for report backs or to ask each reporter not to give a full report, but just to answer one question.

  7. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #8 The Art of Traffic Control
    Air traffic controllers are the people who expedite and maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system.[i] Because of the incredible amount of responsibility that these individuals have while on duty, they are regarded as one of the most difficult and stressful jobs today.
    Facilitators have a similar role when it comes to leading a meeting or workshop. One of the key responsibilities of a facilitator is to expedite and maintain an orderly flow of conversations among participants in order to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for their voice to be heard.
    Some people may not be participating because of process blocking: can’t get a word in edgewise until the topic they wanted to contribute to is past. They will usually give you body language that they want to speak and it is your job to get them a break. Use hand signals, physical position, and verbal interruptions to prevent behaviors that limit participation, make participants feel threatened, or impede progress.
    [i] Wikipedia, Air Traffic Controller

  8. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #7 Debriefing for Impact

    One strategy to providing a powerful reflective experience for a group is the art of Debriefing. Debriefing is the term used in experiential education to describe a question and answer session with participants. Debriefing an experience helps participants connect the activities and knowledge learned to the outside world.
    When I debrief an experience I use the following three-step approach to asking the right questions:
    1. Process questions-“What did you observe, see or hear?”
    2. Reflect questions-How did it feel to…?” “What did you think about…?”
    3. Apply questions-“What does this have to do with…your program, real life, etc.?”

  9. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #6 Know Thy Stuff

    While I was taking a speech class in college, my professor always had a saying, “Less scared when prepared!” Over the years, this simple statement has stuck with me and helped shape me as a communicator. The simple application, know thy stuff! Make sure that you give ample time for preparation of your workshop or meeting. Know when you want to break the larger group into smaller groups and what you want those groups to do. Be intentional about the modalities that you are using to engage people and have fun. Being well prepared will allow you to have more fun and provide a richer experience for the participants.

  10. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #5 Maintaining Neutrality

    In his book, “The Secrets of Facilitation, Michael Wilkinson talks about the importance of a facilitator drawing out all sides of an issue. He states, “Good facilitators understand the importance of remaining neutral and therefore allow the discussion to go where it will as long as it stays on topic and the ground rules aren’t broken. Top facilitators separate neutrality from passivity. They are willing to challenge assumptions and seemingly questionable points to avoid the dangers of “group think.” They may float alternative ideas in order to get the group to consider a different course of action. They are careful however to speak of the benefits of all sides in order to avoid the perception of bias.”[i]

    If a facilitator expresses his or her own opinion, it may serve to shut down the speaker. To remain neutral, the facilitator needs to have neutral non-verbal communication and verbal communication.

    Here are a couple of practical things to try and avoid in creating an environment of neutrality:

    Things to Try:

    Give everyone an equal opportunity to talk
    Pay attention to your non-verbal communication
    Use comments like “Everyone has their own opinion” or “lets agree to disagree and move on”.

    Things to Avoid:

    Sharing your opinion on the issue or topic
    Make negative or disagreeing comments about others comments

    [i] The Secrets of Facilitation: The S.M.A.R.T. Guide to Getting Results With Groups by Michael Wilkinson

  11. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #2 Active Listening
    Facilitating workshops has many misconceptions and why not? The definition of “facilitation” has the idea of helping make something easy and the greatest facilitators, make the actual leading of a workshop look easy. One of the most common assumptions about facilitators is that what makes a trainer great is if they have the gift of gab. In reality, much of what makes a great trainer, GREAT is how she is able to listen to what an entire group is telling her and somehow tie it all back into one conversation. Just like a boxer in the ring sets up the knockout punch with his footwork, a trainer in learning community sets up the right comments with what her ears have heard the audience say. Below are some practical tips from my friend Adrian at the Youth Development Network on how you can improve the art of listening and increase your effectiveness as a trainer

    Top 10 Active Listening Skills
    1. Give 100% Ear Power—make it a habit to listen carefully. Do everything you can not to let other thoughts get in the way.
    2. Wait until the other person has finished talking before you talk.
    3. Paraphrase what you have heard for the benefit of the speaker, you the trainer, and the rest of the participants.
    4. Show only positive nonverbal communication while listening.
    5. Be transparent with your “Brain Freeze”: It is OK to let the group know that you momentarily lost focus.
    6. Clarify: When a speaker is being abstract or trying to get many points in at one time.
    7. Always be polite.
    8. Make sure the speaker has the attention of the room. Do not allow much side-barring to happen when someone is speaking.
    9. Capture the main point of what the speaker is trying to convey. Feel free to use pen and paper to jot down key words, or phrases.
    10. And whenever possible remain neutral when differing opinions are in the room.

  12. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #4—Non-Verbal Communication

    Non-verbal communication gives the speaker signals that you’re paying attention without interrupting what he or she is saying. There are non-verbals that convey paying attention and those that show inattention. The following examples can help illustrate this clearly to youth:

    Being Inattentive or Disrespectful
    • Shrugging your shoulders
    • Looking away from the speaker
    • Crossing your arms and/or legs
    • Sitting slouched over
    • Rolling your eyes
    • Tapping your fingers

    Paying Attention
    • Making eye contact
    • Smiling
    • Nodding your head
    • Sitting up straight
    • Leaning towards speaker
    • Uncrossing your legs and arms

  13. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #3 The Parking Lot: When There’s More Information Than Time

    At trainings we should always have a place to catch thoughts, ideas and reactions from the participants. Most of the time we put a piece of paper on the wall and call this landing zone a “parking lot” or “bike rack”. When used properly, this can be a facilitator’s best friend. If used poorly, it becomes yet another ineffective tool that can actually do more harm. Here are a couple of tips on how to effectively use a parking lot or bike rack:
    1. Make it look pretty. I know this sounds ridiculous but it really does matter. You want the participants in your training to know that they are valued and that their ideas and thoughts matter. Showing that you spent some time preparing it communicates that to them.
    2. Keep it in the forefront and not an after-thought. It is very common to get caught up in the materials of the training and forget to revisit the parking lot at all. Use natural pauses during the training (breaks, after lunch, end of day, etc.) as an opportunity to revisit the parking lot and address any items that have been posted.
    3. Address every item on the parking lot. Obviously not every item can be addressed at the training, so it is important for the facilitator to direct people where they can go to find the information and to let them know when it is accessible.
    4. Tap into 21st century learning and have people text in their questions throughout the training and have a Q & A time at the end of each day.

  14. Scott Mautte says:

    Training Tip #1 V.A.K.
    You may remember from your Master Trainer Training the piece on multiple learning styles. The work of Howard Gardner and others have identified what they have called “multiple intelligences” which define preferred methods of learning for an individual. In a nutshell, we all realize that we process and learn information in different ways and the multiple intelligences give us a pathway to engage others more in the learning process. As a facilitator, one of the greatest challenges is how to engage a room full of people who all learn information in different ways. A great place to start is to focus on the Big 3 of the Intelligences: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. Visual learners gain knowledge best by seeing or reading what you’re trying to teach. Auditory learners gain knowledge best by listening. Kinesthetic learners gain knowledge best by touching, moving, and doing. How would this look in a training? When you are going to do an activity, have the directions written out, either colorfully on chart paper or on PowerPoint. While the group is together, share the instructions to them verbally and then have them try it out. Using the VAK model to facilitate a training, a project meeting or a club meeting will increase the engagement of your audience and help them better retain the information. For a fun opportunity, click on the following link and find out what your primary learning style might be. http://www.brainboxx.co.uk/a3_aspects/pages/VAK_quest.htm

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