When facilitating workshops there are things I do to bring something new or fresh to each class. This not only makes it new and exciting for me as a facilitator, but more meaningful and interesting for the audience.
As Course Leaders we may set-up and facilitate a workshop to a prescribed check-list. One item might be to ensure a senior leader opens or closes the session, or better still, actually actively participates to set the right tone and focus for the learning.
However, there are other elements that help me incorporate external factors that add to a valuable learning environment. I recall a workshop I facilitated in Malaysia. I was lucky enough to have a friend as one of the key stakeholders from the customer side. I had lunch with my friend on the first day I was there. As we conversed I got the most recent goings on, both good and bad.
While it was tricky to open up this “Pandora’s box” and manage the feedback during lunch, it gave me exactly what I needed to capture the attention of the audience later the same afternoon, as they were the account team for this very customer. During the afternoon program, I fit this new information into the learning process.
The first response from my participants was “How did you know that? This incident only happened early this morning?” I had a simple answer. “As a facilitator it’s my job to help you relate what you are learning to real-life applications – like this current issue.”
I realized two things: 1) They now had an opportunity to create a meaningful action plan to solve a real and “hot” issue using the key learning principles. 2) As an outsider I achieved an element of respect and rapport with the audience. This built trust for them to open up and share more of their stories related to the learning. All in all it turned out to be a very memorable and successful session.
As you can see, having latest “voice of the customer” is a powerful way to make a workshop more engaging. Other ideas include bringing related articles from the news, or citing current industry trends, or knowing what competitors have done that sets a new standard.
What else have you done as a Course Leader to bring something fresh to each learning session that you lead?