3 Sure Fire Ways to be a Rock Star Facilitator

January 18th, 2016

It is easy to get stuck in “auto-pilot” as a facilitator. This is a dangerous mistake, but here are three sure-fire ways to make sure it never happens to you!

1. Start with a Hook

It’s tough in this day to capture the interest of one human for more than a few seconds, never mind a whole gaggle of them in one room. Especially if those humans were told they HAVE to be in that room as part of a new training initiative. This is why capturing their interest and attention right out of the gate is so important. This is critical when teaching young people, but equally important when teaching adults. Share something relevant, but engaging to capture your audience’s attention and give them an idea as to what is to come. Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • A brief YouTube video related to what you’ll be covering
  • A meme that pokes fun at what you’ll be doing, allowing you to start off with debunking a corporate myth
  • A powerful image that allows you to open with provocative questions that really force your team to dig deep for meaningful answers
  • A clip of a popular TV series that encompasses the topic of the day

2. Share Learning Objectives

It is critical your adult learners know what to expect. This doesn’t have to be a full agenda; it can be as simple as a few words letting them know what they will learn that morning, that afternoon, or that day. As adults, we want to know what our managers expect of us. Knowing what to focus on assures us the content is relevant to our jobs, we can get into the right mindset, and we will be able to take away something useful. If possible, keep this objective visible throughout the training day.

3. Engage your Students in Discussion

Never underestimate the value of the knowledge in the room. Your audience brings a wealth of information and likely knows more about some of the training topics than you do. Facilitation means you are there to guide their learning, not to be the “Sage on the Stage”. Be sure to allow your learners the opportunity to engage in discussion with their colleagues to share their knowledge, learn from others, and create new understandings together.

Ensure your discussion topics take a multi-disciplinary approach so all departments in the room find value, and are able to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. Here are a few ways you can incorporate productive discussions in your groups:

  • Ask compelling, multi-part, open-ended questions
  • present scenarios with a dilemma that any member may typically encounter at work
  • share corporate problems requiring solutions
  • share sample problems if sharing real issues is not feasible

By incorporating these three teaching techniques, you will see an immediate increase in attendee engagement. Just remember that it’s not about you; it’s about your students. Giving them the opportunity to have a greater role in their training ensures they’ll get more out of the experience than if they were merely (not) listening to you talk at them.

I have been engaging students, soliciting their chuckles, and guiding them towards generating new knowledge since 1997. If you are stuck for ways to engage your group, or have any questions about my post, please comment or connect with me through Success4Business or on LinkedIn. Or you can call me at 403-505-9929.

What are some tips you have for engaging your audience?

Deanna Deveau, M.Sc.
Instructional Designer
D2 Academy