Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for April, 2013

Branding – How do we want to be seen by others?

IMG_0164I had never really seriously considered the concept of personal branding until I came across Matt Church’s books on Though Leadership. Matt talks about “signature style” and the need for it to be consistent, congruent and function.

I was reminded of this recently when Lindy Nelson from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust NZ was visiting Australia. Lindy presented to a rural women’s leadership program we were running and talked about identifying your leadership brand.

One way to get started is to think of some words you would like to come to mind when people think of you in that role. Then think carefully about the “how” you demonstrate this to the world. What have you done, or what will you do, to ensure the brand is congruent with “who” you are.

Asking others is a good way to get feedback and check in with the consistency of the message you are aiming to portray. Ask specific questions so you get clear worthwhile answers. A simple start is “What words would you use to describe me as a….”

As a facilitator, trainer and coach I have been thinking carefully about the brand thats important for me. The words that are important include: professional, inclusive, innovative, creative, outcomes focus, personable and sense of fun.

As Matt Church points out “its an expression of you, rather than an affectation of who you’d like to be.”

www.mattchurch.com

Branding must be true to who you are…what are the words that are important for your “signature style” and how do you portray these to the world?

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Effective Flip Charts

IMG_0801I’m an avid user of  the Flip Chart, or as I tend to call it “butchers paper”. As my skills in facilitation have increased my reliance on powerpoint has decreased to the point I now rarely use it.

Todays’s blog is a few strategies in how I use Flip Charts effectively

  • Use colour – Mr Sketch Markers are a fantastic facilitation tool. I like to use lots of colour, borders, headings in different colours and usually write each line in a different colour so it is easier to distinguish as a participant.Be careful of some of the lighter colours, orange can be hard to read – however it is still great for headings.
  • Always, and I mean always, use the participants words. As soon as you change the words you have taken the ownership away from that person. This can be challenging with some extraverts who like to talk. Let them talk and then ask “What would you like me to write up here to capture your thoughts?”. If you remember from an earlier post extraverts like to think and speak at the same time- they will work through their thoughts out loud and then are usually very good at brining it back to a sentence. Listen carefully to the key words used by participants and always ask permission before changing anything. If you don’t understand what they are saying ask them “What would you like me to write down?”.
  • Put the flip charts up around the room so people can refer back to them. Once you have turned over the page no-one can see what has been discussed. Participants have told us they like the sheets to be put up in order and numbered so they can follow the flow of the session more easily.
  • Don’t worry about spelling – we are all human, if, like me, there are times the spelling simply disappears from your head, tell the group and someone  will almost always help – or put a “spell check” button on the corner of the page and make light of it.
  • Practice writing on the butchers paper – use print and make it large enough that people can read it around the room. It takes time to write neatly in straight lines on a flip chart.
  • Whenever you can, ask participants to work in small groups and let them record their own ideas – this can create more ownership in the process.
  • Keep the process underway while you are writing on the flip chart if possible, however don’t talk to the chart instead of the group and don’t hide behind the chart when reading comments back to the group.

I have received lots of great feedback about my pieces of “butchers paper” and find it a fantastic interactive facilitation tool.

Hope you all enjoy a great ANZAC day.

Tips for running great field days

EL Bill Fungicides 2Tips for great field days – thanks once again to the GRDC Extension group for their ideas. I have build on their brainstorm with some other thoughts collected from discussions over the last 12 months.

Tips for great field days …

  • Well located – think about where the field day site is to be located. Is it easily accessible? If it’s a very wet season will people still be able to access the site? What is the noise level like? Is there a busy highway or train line close to the site which will impact on peoples ability to hear speakers?
  • Run on time – start and finish on time, value the effort people have made to be there. This includes the sessions during the day – speakers don’t feel valued if they have prepared for 30 minutes are then are cut short because the  person prior has gone over time.
  • Know and “name” the outcomes to be achieved by the event. A few well formed outcomes are more achievable than lots and lots!
  • Local, relevant and topical – what are the key issues being faced in the district right now.
  • Credible topics – how can this be integrated into my farm business?
  • Recognised farmer – utilise farmers where possible to tell stories and value add to the research with their first hand experiences.
  • Evaluate – follow up, how effective was the event? Were the agreed outcomes achieved? What worked well and what could be done differently next time?
  • Good agronomy – make sure the trials are well presented and in line with district practice.
  • Interaction time – ensure there is time for participants to views trials, ask questions and discuss what they might have learnt amongst themselves.
  • Good food – this is vitally important! Poor food will be all that is reported on so get it right!
  • Focus – not heaps of trials or topics.
  • Crop trial inspection time – focus on a few trials is more effectively than overwhelming people with lots to view. Think about how much you can take in during one session.
  •  Add something that is a “bit left of field” or “blue sky” to create some interest
  • BBQ  & beer to finish off the day and allow some very important networking time.

What other ideas do readers have about what makes a great field day?

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Top tips for running training workshops & facilitated groups

2013-04-04 16.21.18Thanks to the GRDC Extension, Adoption Training and Support Group for their top tips on how to run effective training workshops and facilitated groups. The group met in Canberra last week where we reviewed farmer decision making, personality types, extension, adoption and evaluation.

The top tips are not prioritised – they were developed during a facilitated brainstorming exercise.

Training workshops

  1. Plan the event early
  2. Clear training packages and outcomes
  3. Topical and relevant dealing with current issues
  4. Accommodate different learning styles
  5. Evaluate the process
  6. Follow up after the workshop – ensure learning put into practice
  7. Interactive sessions – not all chalk and talk
  8. Recognise the knowledge in the room and draw this into the discussion
  9. Good presenters / facilitators
  10. Introduce the agenda and stick to it
  11. Practicality,think about – Relative advantage, trialabilty, observabilty, simplicity, compatibility
  12. Good take home resources
  13. Logical progression throughout the workshop
  14. Venue that works

Facilitated groups

  1. Establish the ground rules in an inclusive way
  2. Establish the group – take the time to do this properly and build ownership in the process
  3. Good facilitation skills to engage participants – ownership on driving the agenda of the group
  4. Good process and skill
  5. Group has purpose and expectations
  6. Understand the desired overview and stick to it
  7. Include everyone
  8. Stick to agreed timeframes
  9. Manage  the group and individuals energy
  10. Review and reflect effectively
  11. Evaluate
  12. Good planning
  13. Use a range of methods to accommodate learning styles

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