Does this scenario sound familiar? You attend an event, class or event, and the presenter drones on about the topic and her expertise. Or worse, she speaks directly from her notes or slides, bare making contact with the audience having everyone continuously running for more coffee to stay awake.
Learning is intended to be a dynamic experience. Humans learn, retain, and are more likely to take action when information is delivered in an active learning environment where they are encouraged to discover and experience the topic – rather than just listen passively.
If you’re striving to become a pro at delivering workshops, you will not only see better results by embracing these concepts, but both you and your audience will enjoy the learning process on a deeper level. When learning is in alignment with our natural approach, rather than the didactic, pedagogic approach we’ve been subjected to in school – we are empowered to ingest information in a way that can be easily digested and integrated on a holistic level.
If this doesn’t convince you – take a minute to think of the way that a toddler learns. They aren’t cautious and contained. They explore freely to experience their surroundings. They are eager to see what is around the corner, approaching each turn with enthusiasm and delight. You can never overwhelm a toddler with too many new ideas or experiences. They are eager to absorb it ALL! Why? Because they have yet to be restrained by the regimentation that unfortunately becomes a part of life all too soon. They still associate learning with exploring and experiencing; not sitting up straight, paying attention, and simply “listening.” Boooring!
When was the last time you truly felt excited about learning and experiencing something new? When did your passion for knowledge take a nosedive? 10th-grade science? So many educators will agree that learning should be more fun, fluid and flexible, but they will return to their old familiar routines the moment they close the classroom door and hear the bell ring – turning their class into yet another snoozefest. Operant conditioning, anyone?
As a workshop facilitator, you have the freedom to create your own learning environment. A simulating one. You can choose to deliver amazing workshops that get everyone excited about the topic, ready to actively share their troubles and concerns with you, and eager to see what more you have to offer. You can create a learning environment of your choice; one that is stimulating, engaging, and inspiring. By now you may be wondering how you can achieve this.
Tips for Better Engagement at Workshops
Here are four great ways to turn your next workshop into a fun, interactive, and inspiring event.
Instead of talking, use as many opportunities as you can to show and demonstrate what you’re talking about. Bring samples to let your participants see and touch the concepts you are trying to relate. Instead of talking about measurements of sugar – show them the actual amount of sugar that is in a can of soda. Sometimes it doesn’t resonate unless you actually see it, right?! In addition use visuals, images and video during your presentation. Whatever you think will inspire your audience and drive the point home.
Put away the PowerPoint.
Okay, I’m not saying you have to completely eliminate the use of a slideshow in your workshop – but try to keep its use to a minimum. Use the slideshow to supplement your own passion and material – not to substitute for it. If you want to make sure your audience remembers the key points, put together a handout or attendee workbook that they can take home. Or upload your slides to a password protected page on your website that only attendees can access (with a password you provide them). But don’t let the slideshow steal your thunder and take away from your ability to connect with your audience.
Your attendees will have a better workshop experience when the environment allows them to have open discussions and share their own experiences or opinions. But you know that there’s always going to be that one attention-seeking person at every event. You’ll want to have mechanisms in place to make sure all your attendees are equally involved in the sharing process. For example, let people know they will have 1 minute to respond to a question or share their experiences. This is a great way to establish ground rules from the outset while allowing everyone a fair chance to share, participate, and feel heard.
Nothing is worse than being bored to tears at a workshop or seminar. And you don’t want your attendees to have this experience at yours! So, use activities to encourage participation. Mix them up too! Alternate between group shares, writing on the flipchart, doing a pen/paper exercise in the workbook. You might even ask for volunteers to take the lead on “acting out” a concept. But never force an attendee to go outside of their comfort zone. Get creative and you’ll have your attendees sharing their experience at your event with everyone they know.
These are some of the simple ways you can avoid having a yawn-inducing environment at your next workshop. By remembering to keep the focus on your attendees, not letting the tech upstage you, and having an open environment where everyone is valued – you’re sure to deliver a wonderful workshop that will have them engaged and wanting more from you!
What are some strategies that you’ll incorporate to keep your attendees engaged and avoid a yawn-inducing event? Let me know in the comments below!
FREE Workshop Facilitation Guide
Do you need a clear plan to boost engagement and make your workshops a success? Get a FREE copy of our Workshop Facilitation Guide here.