If you are a subject matter expert with an audience, you already know that engaging with the people in front of you is a critical part of the social learning experience. And if you are teaching others, this engagement also serves to increase retention rates for your participants.
While there are bucketloads of methods for inviting participation, your options and choice will often depend on the size of your group, the purpose of your presentation, the audience composition, the time allotted, and your venue, to name a few. For example, if your presentation is in a large theatre or auditorium with an audience of 300 and you have been offered 10 minutes on stage, you wouldn’t necessarily opt for audience engagement that involves moving about the room – theatre-style row seating and the timing do not lend themselves well for that freedom of movement, although it can certainly be done.
But what if bums are firmly planted?
Does that mean you can’t engage the...
I started my formal presentation experience, as many others, in boardrooms, classrooms and group settings, and then later, as technology advanced, in the online space. 15 years ago, I helped launch the Canadian operations of a global human capital management software company into the world of online facilitation.
At that time, we began delivering synchronous interactive webinars and virtual facilitator-led computer classroom sessions. It was pretty cool to watch attendees engage in actual hands-on activities as if in a physical computer lab. The facilitator could basically ‘walk’ around the virtual classroom and literally watch the participants perform a series of tasks on software programs they did not yet have on their own computers, all through the magic of technology. I immediately appreciated how that technology helped people learn using non-traditional methods and in an incredibly powerful and accessible manner.
I trained and mentored facilitators across...
Last week, a subject matter expert in the marketing and social media industry asked for my advice on presentation software for a course they are developing. They were hesitant about using Microsoft’s PowerPoint application and were looking for alternatives, having heard about the phenomenon commonly known as Death by PowerPoint.
To be sure, there are alternatives.
And concerns about this horrible affliction are valid. Many of us have fallen victim to the condition.
There are countless articles and online commentary, books, even comedic videos and cartoon depictions for the ghastly ennui that plagues so many seminars.
Presentation decks with text-heavy slides and the ineffective use of display settings, animations, and transitions, paired with a facilitator who then feels obliged to read each slide, word for word, can elicit participant boredom and downright disengagement.
But PowerPoint doesn’t have to be a ‘death’ sentence.
In fact, I love it....
As creators and curators of content, we trainers (read: all terms associated with, including presenters, facilitators, performance professionals, learning advocates, instructors, teachers, keynote speakers, talent developers, subject matter experts, etc.) tend to amass a hefty toolkit of tips and tricks over the years – some by trial and error, some gleaned from others.
Recently, one of my contemporaries asked me on Twitter to contribute a tip. The one he shared, I thought, was brilliant, suggesting tiny reminder notes written in pencil on flip charts that only the facilitator can see. Not only does this ease the pressure on recall, it’s a better option than index cards which can find themselves out of order…on the floor.
I thought back to my first plunge at the podium in 1995. During that inaugural inexperience, I spoke matter-of-factly, stuck to the slated points, peered over the crowd to feign eye-contact, and moved efficiently from open to topic to...
Scenario A: You are attending a workshop and the facilitator glances passively to the audience, asks for questions; then, after a second or two of silence, moves immediately to the next topic.
Scenario B: You are attending a workshop and the facilitator asks for questions, to which they receive multiple participant responses.
So, what is happening in Scenario A to illicit no response? Possibly a host of things, including timing. In my experience, and with due respect to Scenario A attendees, they quite likely don’t even know if they have a question within the allowable two-second timeframe, let alone have the time to ask it. That’s the reality of our cerebral capacity.
There is a lot going on during the learning process. Learning is not simply depositing knowledge in a memory bank or neatly stacking the library shelves of our minds. There is, instead, this entangled web of synapses firing in multi-directional waves. A sea of information mixing into itself.