Often, the effectiveness and ‘fun’ of a training session is measured against how actively involved people were when learning. Adequate participation in the various activities crucial to a session’s successful delivery is, without a doubt, every facilitator’s or trainer’s dream.
While it might be expected that participation flows independent of the group and context, attaining optimal involvement requires the employment of a few enabling techniques.
Here are five simple tips to keep in mind when leading a group of people next time.
- Establish a RELATIONSHIP (connection).
With the participants, work out how all of you find yourselves in this gathering and what the goal of your interaction is. Having seen how all of you fit in the picture, discuss, outline or agree on what each party has to do to for the goal to be achieved and the relationship to sustain. This is a simple way of helping participants know how much and what type of participation will be required of them. As a result, when the time comes for responsive activity, you have a group of willing and prepared human beings.
Another easy way of establishing a connection is getting names and ‘a little more’ information about the participants. While calling participants by their names shows attention and makes people feel seen, knowing a little background helps you craft a custom way of welcoming participants in the conversation. ‘A little more’ can include; what participants do, hobbies, interests or anything general and light enough to be shared professionally.
- Clearly outline the rules of engagement and avenues of participation.
Sometimes (most times) people just want to be told or shown how. Therefore, spell out how participants can ask questions, air opinions, seek clarification or communicate arising matters. Not only does this make it easy for a person to engage but also gives a standard format that anyone in the group can follow, especially the shy ones.
- Ensure the energy is optimal.
Any level of encouraging participation is predicated by how active a group of people is. Engagement requires people to use their own liveliness. This liveliness is inspired complimented by their immediate environment and experience. As such, maintaining high spirits through a session uplifts the mood for participants to engage. Often, keeping things vibrant and enthusiastic works well in getting people active.
- Affirm and confirm progressively.
Upon participation or display of intent to participate offer total support and encouragement to the individual or group. Let it be known that such activity is appreciated and helpful in achieving the session’s goal. This directly motivates participants to be more active and free.
Similarly, giving immediate feedback that confirms or corrects participation is helpful. Usually, participants follow your instructions in the faith that they are on the right track. Giving assurance that someone is correct rallies their morale while correcting them enhances understanding.
- ANY INSTRUCTIONS given have to be concise.
Concise – brief but comprehensive. (Oxford dictionary)
Because participants will always try to listen attentively, any directives given should be well understood. Keep things brief because human beings have an attention span that is just a few seconds short of being similar to that of a gold fish. In addition, having long or repetitive instructions may end up confusing people. You might consider numbering your instructions and offering a demo where possible just to ensure there is adequate understanding.
Teaching or learning in a group of people is immensely enriched when participants are active. It confirms their attention, understanding and honest experience of the experience you deliver as a trainer or facilitator.
What are some other ways of encouraging participation that you know?
By Emmanuel Marumbu Misiati
Professional trainer and facilitator