An alternative to poor workshop presentations

No doubt you’ve been asked to facilitate a workshop when a senior manager decides they need to ‘set the scene’ for the day.

This can go one of two ways:

1. Staff are impressed that she made the effort to be there.

2. Staff are impressed that she made the effort to be there – less so when she promptly left. Even less so when they feel they’re were just being ‘told what to do anyway.’

I heard about a way around this that’s worth a try. It was from a session on Conflict Management at the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) conference in Adelaide.

For most planning workshops there’s some form of pre-reading we’d like participants to do. This may be the current plan of the group or organisation, or a ‘Future Directions’ type document.

Either way, getting people to read anything before a workshop is often a big ask. Many are just too busy to give their attention to the task beforehand. This means that you’re planning process could become compromised as people are coming in with differing levels of understanding of some of the key issues. This may result in repeated delays in clarifying the issues, repeatedly going over the same ground, or one person having the ‘knowledge’ and trying to run the show.

Which makes your job much, much harder.

Monica Redden (an independent facilitator based in Adelaide) suggested allocating 15 minutes at the start of the workshop to address this. During this time participants are required to silently read through the key workshop information. Following this a Q&A session can be used to clarify issues.

Then the whole of the group is on the same page (literally) and can function on a more collaborative basis.

Thanks Monica for a great tip. Of course I’m interested in you comments on this.

More soon…

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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

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