Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Getting the pace right for the participants can be an art in itself.

A fellow facilitator and I recently participated in a training workshop, and as facilitators do, afterwards we discussed the process of the training as much as the material we had learnt. We both discovered that for us the pace was a bit slow. This lead to an interesting discussion about what is the right pace and the right pace for whom!

Our reflection on our own learning styles was that we are quite fast paced learners and like things to move along reasonably quickly. This lead us to the thought that were we facilitating in the way we like to learn. … so did that mean maybe we were too fast for some in our audience?

One of my goals in facilitation – from many years ago – was not to have people falling asleep in a session. I decided this counted as a personal failure – so my reflection was ….has this goal lead me to increasing the pace?

Since the dicussion I have taken note of the participants in my workshops and carefully observed their behaviour as a way of checking on pace.

I now check pace by:

  • observing the group carefully for signs, are they looking bored, flustered or appear engaged in the disussion and activities
  • asking someone in the break – so simple – choose a couple of people whose behaviour you may have noticed and someone that appears to be traveling OK.
  • have a question on your evluation form and ask the pace question – use a scale so a simple cross on the line will do.

Be aware of your own preferences and speed and how this might be influencing your style.

When participants say to me…  “Oh is it afternoon tea time already – gosh the day is flying past” …I think  – great – they are engaged in the material and activities and the pace must be about right for them. They are in flow and not noticing the time.

What’s the right pace for you?

Please add your stories or ideas in the comments with this blog.

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