Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for the ‘Workshops with Wow’ Category

A reminder of what not to do..

2014-06-26 08.51.29Sometimes I need reminding by a group of participants about the “What not to do at the front of the room”. I recently attended a Australasia Pacific Extension Network  (APEN) Roadshow – “Designing Effective Events … by understanding how adults learn”  facilitated by Andrew Huffer. One of the discussion points was what are some of the things we dislike from presenters – the things we should take note of and change! There was nothing really new however some good reminders so we make all of our presentations “Wow”.

Some of their key points raised

  • Repetitious behaviour such as jiggling keys or coins in your pocket or swaying – something to be aware of when we are nervous. The key jiggling seems to be more common with males, because of pants with pockets containing the keys rather than handbags I suspect. Participants report finding this type of behaviour distracting.
  • Reading from the power point presentation, demonstrating no awareness of  the audience and not connecting with them. The power point should be there as a guide not be “the presentation” the audience is looking for a personal connection with the presenter. We learn and remember when we are emotionally connected with the presenter or the material in some way, think about how you can connect and do this very early in your presentation. for a few tips on power points https://workshopswithwow.com/tag/powerpoints/
  • Not catering for various learning styles, perhaps the presenter is only considering his or her own learning style rather than being inclusive of all. I am a very visual learner and like to see colour and visuals as part of a presentation not just words and audio, others prefer activities. To review learning styles follow this link    https://workshopswithwow.com/tag/vark/
  • Too many acronyms, only those in the know know them! Avoid acronyms were possible or write them in full.
  • Overload of too much complex data. Remember the famous quote “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” Albert Einstein. The complex data may be very meaningful to you, however, what are the key messages you need your audience to take away.

I’m sure my readers have many other “What’s not to do’s” and I would love you to add some comments to this blog. A big thank you to APEN and Andrew Huffer for making the workshops across the country a success.

After a slow time with my blog due to a busy workload and a trip overseas I am back on deck, you will be receiving more regular blogs once again. Thanks for your support and ongoing messages which keep me motivated.

The ORID

2013-02-05 13.13.52The ORID technique came into my life during the first facilitation workshop I ever attended and I have found it to be an extremely useful tool.

As described by R Brian Stanfield in his book, The Art of Focused Conversation, the ORID provides a framework for conversations to solve a problem, make a decision, evaluate an event, generate commitment, explore options or to build on a vision. His book provides 100 examples of using the technique in our everyday life.

I find it particularly useful as a review or evaulation process and to assist with decision making. So how does it work?

O Objective question – these are the questions to analyse the facts and external reality. I often think of this as the ‘head’ or logic questions. Examples include :

  • What are the topics we have talked about today?
  • What is the financial position?
  • What are the key facts?
  • What were the most important facts in this report?

R Reflective question – this checks in with how we feel about the situation or the facts. It focuses us on the personal internal reaction. I think of it as the heart question – what emotions or feelings do we have.

  • What surprised you in the presentation?
  • What challenged your thinking?
  • Where have you been frustrated by the process?
  • What’s it like to be in this situation?

I Interpretive question – these questions aim to examine the meaning, the values and the significance of the topic. Interpretive questions provide the opportunity to draw out the significance of the O and the R. For me it’s the gut question – what does this mean for me?

  • What does this mean for the organisation
  • What challenges need to be resolved?
  • What are the key messages in the workshop?
  • What alternatives are worth considering?

D Decisional question – aim to bring a resolve to the conversation, a consensus, create an action plan or steps forward.

  1. What will you differently as a result of this workshop?
  2. What is the first step?
  3. What kind of future situations could these learnings be applied to?
  4. What would you do differently next time?

It is particularly important not to overlook the impact of the reflective questions – the feeling and emotions when we are making a decision. We are comfortable dealing with logic and often go straight from facts to interpretation without dealing with the  feelings as we perceive them to be more challenging to quantify.  Feelings and emotion are an important part of decision making and when overlooked actions are often not followed through on or decisions are regretted later.

For more information on the ORID I highly recommend Brian Stanfields, The Art of Focused Conversation – 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace, (2000) published by The Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. My well worn copy has been a valuable facilitation and coaching resource.

Making happy sheets happy!

2013-10-15 16.02.21Evaluation sheets are often called “happy sheets”… often there isn’t anything “happy” about them! Participants groan and instead of leaving the workshop energised and reflecting of a great workshop they leave with a form to complete and a groan.

Evaluation is critical for the facilitator: to report to management, improve our skills, complete a project report, further develop the workshop etc. How can we lighten the process and make the happy sheets happy?

I thought I would share some of the techniques we have been using and would love to hear some ideas from others.

Make the evaluation a group activity. Write up 4 or 5 targeted evaluation questions on pieces of flip chart and put them up around the room. Divide the group into groups of 3 or 4 and ask them to discuss and complete the pages. A simple advantage of this is movement – often workshops involve a lot of sitting, getting people up helps the blood flow and increasing thinking. Everyone will remember different aspects of the workshop and have different perspectives, groups discussion allows the workshop to be reviewed by a team and further deepen some of the learnings.

If flips charts aren’t an option, or the rooms size won’t enable moving around, I often ask people to work with the person sitting beside them and complete the evaluation sheet together. Once again the discussion adds to the depth of feedback.

A dart board approach can be used where people rate various aspects of the workshop by putting a cross on a dart board – with the bulls eye  meaning “the workshop was spot on”. A dart board can be drawn up on a flip chart at the front of the room and everyone files past and completes it. Once again some movement and interest at the end helps to keep the energy levels up.

A quick method with a larger group that works well with the sticky wall is ask participants to write their expectation on a piece of A5 paper at the beginning of the workshop, at the end they take their expectation off the wall and comment on how well this has been met.

A final tip is to ensure there is sufficient time in the agenda to carry out the evaluation effectively – don’t rush it or make it the final activity. Finish off with a closing comment or brief activity that leaves participants with a sense of energy so they head home saying “Wow that was a great workshop!”

How do you make evaluations “happy”? Please post or email me your ideas and I can include them in another blog.

I can be emailed on  jeanette@agconsulting.com.au

May 2014 bring all you hope for!

Making groups hummm

imagesI’m often asked to facilitate committees that are not functioning as well as they would like to be. This is often a result of the group having lost it’s sense of purpose, or common vision and not having clear guidelines to operate within.

When I reflect on the groups and committees I have been involved with over the years one comes to mind as being an exceptional group to work with. What was it about this group that made it exceptional?

  • It had a clear vision and purpose – we all knew what we where aiming for and were all on board with the vision.
  • The plan was produced inclusively and we followed through.
  • We all agreed on “how we will work together” and this framework guided our meetings and how we behaved outside of the meetings. This included simple items like starting and finishing time, reporting in, how we would communicate outside of meetings etc.
  • Roles and responsibilities were agreed upon, clearly understood and most importantly committed to.
  • The outcomes we were aiming for were clear, achievable and measurable.
  • It was fun!! I looked forward to my involvement with the group, we had a laugh at meetings and enjoyed each others company.
  • The group provided me with personal gains – personal skill building and networking.
  • Strong inclusive leadership
  • We celebrated our success – once we had reached our vision we celebrated what we had achieved and wound up the group.

My observations are backed up by research by Ian Plowman (2008) who identified the following as key indicators of a healthy organisation

  • Continual injection of outsiders
  • Social cohesion
  • Interest in individuals and group development
  • Member involvement
  • Youth education and diversity
  • Leadership rotation
  • Open mindedness
  • Internal and external communication

What examples of healthy groups and committee’s do you have? What have you seen work well?

Please email (jeanette@agconsulting.com.au) or post your comments.

Workshop notes – whats important?

2013-08-01 14.56.54What to provide for participants handouts and notes?

I find this varies significantly between workshop providers. Some provide frameworks and lots of space for the group to discover their own outcomes while others provide detailed notes.

Feedback I have received from participants over the years is that they do like hand out materials and notes they can refer back to after the workshop. Read Write learning styles particularly like written materials with more than empty spaces to make their own notes.

Personally I like to have notes to refer back to with enough detail to remind me about what the workshop was about, especially if it is a skill I am very keen to develop.

Tips for workshop notes

  • Make sure you refer to them and use them during your presentation.
  • Have the workshop materials follow the agenda
  • Think about how much knowledge based information is required in the notes, I like to use useful links and book references for the data hungry person rather than include too much reading. Remember there will be some people who will not write anything in their books all day and this is OK for their learning style.
  • Provide spaces for people to write their notes as you go through the agenda. This can also include spaces for notes about the various activities you use during the workshop.
  • Use headings, dot points and a logical flow of ideas
  • I know it’s a basic point – include page numbers!
  • Make sure graphs and diagrams are clear and easy to read – be aware of developing these in colour and the impact of printing in black and white.

What are your thoughts about workshop notes? What appeals to you?

Planning for success

2013-04-11 14.20.35The biggest mistake made with workshops is cramming too much in. If we genuinely want people to develop new skills and knowledge which they can apply after the workshop use the KISS principle. Workshop developers often seem to think they must impart as much knowledge as possible in the shortest time frame possible, agendas are packed so full that by morning tea we have forgotten what was discussed first thing that morning.

When planning workshops I like to use  Bennetts Hierarchy, it provides a useful framework to refer to when you are developing the  agenda. I have simplified and modified Bennetts to make it practical for me.

Outcome – what is the intended outcome of the workshop, what is the big picture we are aiming to achieve? Gaining clarity about your outcome will help you design the right approach. Are you building skills or is your session about creating awareness?

Practice change – what do we want people to do differently as a result of attending our workshop or session. What tangible measurable change do we want them to make.

KASA changes – this is a very important step to consider

a. Knowledge – what knowledge is essential for the outcome and practice change. Lets not overwhelm people with everything we know and try to pump them full of every bit of knowledge on the topic we have collected over a lifetime! The trick is to make it simple to understand and impactful – provide links to extra information for the data hungry person, provide books for people to look at, and keep the information provided simple, easy to understand and apply and useful. What do they really really need to know!

b. Attitudes – this refers to the feelings/attitudes we are generating in the learning journey. What feelings do we want to create – confidence to make the change and meet the outcome, a positive, open approach to learning, a can do attitude?

c. Skills – the hands on doing. What do we want our participants to be able to do as a result of attending our workshop? How competent do we want them be when they leave to implement their learning’s? Remember knowledge doesn’t always lead to practice change where as skills development can.

d. Aspirations – what motivations do we want to instil in our participants. How do we want them to approach the practice change once they leave the workshop?

Activities  – once we have thought through these steps then we can start to think about the best activities to achieve our practice change while keeping the KASA in the front of our minds.

Resources – what resources do we need to complete our workshop activity; this can include our facilitation kit, venue, speakers, funding etc. These are the tangible requirements, which will make the workshop a success.

Now you have determined the knowledge and skills you would like participants to have and the activities to achieve the practice change the next step is to plan the agenda and think about the time frames required.

Building rapport … and sheep?

2013-04-20 11.44.12What does shifting a mob of sheep and building rapport with a group have in common? Good question!

I am often asked how to build rapport with a group of people … and have been reflecting on how I do this when facilitating.

From my childhood I shifted sheep on the family farm with my parents and continue to do so with my husband Bill. We were bringing the sheep home for shearing a few months ago … a good time to reflect and think. I was observing the mob, watching for the leaders, preparing for the break away when we got to gate and keeping eye contact with the “rogue” who was waiting for the opportunity to lead the others off in the wrong direction.

Powers of observation built up from childhood – scanning and watching for body language, making eye contact when required to hold attention, looking out for the signs of discomfort, boredom or time for a rest… developed subconsciously over many years. Skills learnt in one situation, which perhaps I have taken for granted, and applied to a different situation with equal success.

Just like the sheep groups of people will often have the rapport leader, the one the others copy and take the lead from. If you have the opportunity to sit an observe a group watch for the matching and mirroring of gestures and body language. The person leading is most often unaware of the role they are playing. When the facilitator is also in rapport with the this person the rapport is developed more quickly with the group. Being in rapport provides the opportunity to really connect with people, enhancing the whole learning process.

To develop the your skills of observation take some time out when catching public transport or take time to sit and watch large groups of people, look for the body language – train you eye to pick up on the signs of frustration, boredom and interest.

When at the front of the room it’s important to be present for the group, silence the “voice in your head” and be there for the group, watch for their signals. After a while this becomes innate and without realising it we are picking up the vibes of the group. If you are co-facilitating check in with each other about what you are each picking up from the group and reflect with each other afterwards about the rapport.

Go beyond merely communicating to ‘connecting’ with people. Jerry Bruckner

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