What Audiences Crave
FRONT OF THE ROOM – Brian Lange
What do audiences really want from their facilitator?
While preparing to deliver advanced facilitation skills training, I paused to consider a straightforward question: “What do audiences really want — or, even crave from their facilitator?”
There exists much research and structured learning around this. However, I’ve chosen to experiment over the years — to really tune-in with my audiences, and to soak up any feedback from audience members afterward. Here is my take on what audiences really crave from their facilitator.
I want the “real” you up there! I want to see your humanity, get a sense of your persona — even your sense of humor. I would prefer you to be less formal, more casual. I want to learn about you the person — not your work or educational history. I want this to evolve through the stories you share, and through the way you engage with us, not through a slide or soliloquy. I also want a sense that you’ve “got this” — that you’re prepared, confident and excited to work with us exploring the topic du jour.
‘Our Room’ Vibe
Hey, I have experience and insights, too! Please access the knowledge and experience in the room right from the start! Let us help you carry the load! Perhaps give us some say in establishing our “norms” for being together (you don’t have to dictate the “rules”). Try to resist the temptation to be “in-charge.” You’re standing up there to lead us — not direct us. Work with the assumption that you too might learn something in this experience.
Open The Door to Possibility
I need you to grab me at the beginning — not with agenda/objectives slides or a detailed background about you (or even an awkward icebreaker) — but catch my attention. Take me somewhere unexpected in your opening … and then make the link to why we’re here. I don’t need you to over-sell the content as life-changing and amazing (I’ll determine that later), but open the door to the possibility that I might get something out of the experience. “Who knows? Maybe if we take a fresh look at this skill set, and experiment with some new twists, we can wring some more productivity out.” I don’t want to be sold to. I want to be engaged to take responsibility in my own learning.
If you do all the work, I’m not going to magically “receive” all the content nor be able to apply it when I leave the class. Get us to help you! Ask us open-ended questions; seek volunteers; let us teach-back to each other. Ask us questions because you really want to know the answers.
Show Me High-Fidelity
Regardless of your personality “type” or personal style, I need you to be alive. If you don’t have energy about the topic, how can I? I need you to sound vibrant and give me something visually appealing to follow (standing in one spot, or behind a podium or table inhibits this). Record yourself and ask, “Am I interesting to listen to/watch?”
Help Me Think
Be mindful of author Ron Carucci’s observation that “Learning is a consequence of thinking, not teaching.” Ask open-ended questions — and wait for us to respond! Ask us to challenge your viewpoint. Seek evidence of our comprehension. Don’t tell me the important take-aways, help me generate them!
Brian Lange is with Perim Consulting and serves as lead facilitator for LTEN PrimeTime! For Trainers Core and Masters Workshops. Email Brian at email@example.com.