Help! I’ve Got a
By Brian Lange
I recently received a request from a trainer to
share some thoughts on what adjustments
might be made in order to accommodate a
large audience (50+ people in this case). It is
tempting to view that as a totally different
experience from that of a smaller (10-25
people) session — however, I’ve found they’re
more similar than one might think. In some
ways, we just have to think “bigger” than our
One strategy is to identify what potential
concerns you may have about a big group, and
then find a way to tell the group what you need:
• “With a big room like this, and the high
ceilings – I’m really going to need to ask that
you project your voices so that others will
hear you when you contribute.”
• “You might consider standing when you
contribute to help ensure people hear you.”
• “We need fresh energy and perspectives for
this interaction, so I’d ask that you consider
finding a partner who is someone you may
not know well.”
By sharing what you need as the facilitator, it
gives the audience the chance to choose
whether they want to step up and play a role
within the session. It helps them be accountable
— because they have chosen to — rather than
simply being compliant to some rule you’ve laid
down. This is one way you share ownership
with the audience.
Here are some additional thoughts to
• If the audience is seated at tables, try to limit
table size to six. Sidebars and distraction
tend to escalate with more people.
• Make a list of all potential pitfalls as you review the leader’s guide or notes – and
create a plan to overcome them.
• Be visible. Go visit the folks on the sides and
in the back of the room during your delivery.
• Your voice/inflection/animation will be key
(use a lavalier microphone for sure)! You
need to focus on presenting a compelling
audible experience: You have to fill up that
big room! A great technique is to use the
voice memo feature on your smartphone
and press “record” during a practice delivery.
Challenge yourself: “Am I interesting to
• Clearly ask the group to “Listen for my voice
while you’re working on your activity. I’ll
give a one-minute or 30-second warning for
when we’re going to come back together as a
group.” This gives them a heads-up of what
• Get proof from the audience (by asking for
volunteers to recap) that they know what
they’re about to do as they embark on an
• Support any instructions for an activity with
a PowerPoint slide with a few bullet points
(not paragraph description).
• Make sure font-size is legible for a big group.
This is often not the case (for example, we
use a minimum of 32-pt, bolded font).
Finally, don’t be afraid to have them do small
group work. Just because they’re in a large
session, it doesn’t mean you have to do all of the
heavy-lifting from the front of the room!
Brian Lange, email@example.com, is with Perim Consulting and serves as lead facilitator for LTEN PrimeTime! For
Trainers Core and Masters Workshops. Find blogs, tweets and more at Perim.com.