Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

2013-08-19 15.41.37A common topic of discussion in many workshops, and a concern of researchers, farming groups, RDE corporations and others  – How do we get farmers along to events?

Research carried out by Rod Strachan looking at farmer personality types found that rural industries attract people with a preference for Introversion. (Beef 62%; Cropping 58%; and Intensive Industries 63%) when compared with the Australian sample (55%). Rod goes on to say “The challenge facing rural extension is that persons expressing a preference for Introversion are not attracted to attending meetings. Moreover, if they do they may have difficulty becoming involved in the absence of a skilled facilitator.”

I have incorporated the Myers Briggs Type Indicator into many workshops with farmers and consultants over the years and asked the  following two questions “How can we attract and engage Introverts in events?” and “How does your personality type like to have  new information presented?”

Today I will share with you some of the thoughts of the many introverts who have attended these workshops to attempt to provide some insight into the first question.

  • Group size is important – Introverts have reported they prefer either a small group (under 12) where they feel comfortable to contribute or a large groups where they can hide in the crowd.
  • Introverts dislike being singled out without warning – if you are presenting  and would like a comment from an introvert – give them prior warning.
  • In small groups, make sure everyone speaks in the first 20 -30 minutes, Introverts are more likely to continue to contribute if they have spoken in a safe environment.
  • A direct invitation from someone they know encourages them to attend, particularly if they are able to attend with that person.
  • Many introverts have told me they hate bus trips. They would rather follow in their own vehicle for some time out and ability to leave when they like. Bus trips can create a “trapped feeling”.
  • Introverts like one-on-one time with advisers or a few trusted significant others in preference to large group activities.
  • Time for private reflection after an activity, to think about how it fits in with their system, and then follow up support to implement was important.
  • Allow time at field days for the Introverts to talk one-on-one with the speakers. Instead of rushing from one trial plot to the next allow a break between speakers for discussion and contemplation.
  • Introverts like to know what is expect when they arrive at the event – clear expectations and agenda.

I would love to hear some comments and experiences from farmers and advisers about how they attract and engage farmers in events. Please post some thoughts in the comments.

Some findings from the second question “How does your personality type like to have new information presented?” will be in a future blog.

Rod Strachen, Myers Briggs Type Indicator Preferences by Industry and Implications for extension. Published in “Shaping Change – Natural Resource Management and the Role of Extension.” (2011) edited by Dr Jess Jennings, Dr Roger Packham and Dr Dedee Woodside, (APEN)

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Comments on: "Attracting farmers to events" (6)

  1. This is exactly my experience. I currently run two beef discussion groups, each with about 12 farmers. Often their partners come along and we get up to 16 at a meeting. It needs to be a safe environment with very few ‘surprises’. I do not ask for comments from individuals without really knowing how comfortable they are in a group environment. I always allow time for individual producers to talk one on one. This means all formal presentations are followed by a paddock visit which is a far more relaxed environment.

  2. Thanks for your comments Brian. It’s great to hear others have similar experiences to mine and the greatest practice change often happens with the small group activities.

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