Facilitators, have you ever asked a question to your audience…a really good question (or so you thought), only to be met with blank stares?
(See where I’m going with this?)
I was planning to use an actual photo of a real cricket for this post. But I when I started looking for an image, they were all kind of creepy. So as not to turn away any insect-averse readers, I went with a cricket of the Jiminy variety. You’re welcome…and thanks, Disney!
Recently, I was leading a training workshop for a small-ish group of people, and I threw (what I anticipated to be) a discussion question out to the group, but no one picked up on it. I had to do everything shy of sing and dance to get them to talk – for which they would. have. been. sorry.
But still. Nothing.
Afterward, as I was reflecting on the session, I kept replaying the scenario in my head: They were a smart crowd – why wouldn’t they speak up? Why didn’t they answer my awesome question? Why didn’t they immediately jump into a fruitful discussion about the topic?
And then I remembered…it’s not about me.
Fellow facilitators, it’s not about us.
Chances are, my audience DID have thoughts or experiences to share. Chances are, I could have posed the question in a different way. Chances are, I wasn’t exactly facilitating…I was presenting, maybe even (gasp!) lecturing. And there is a difference.
We know how adults learn. We have good intentions to create an environment that is conducive for learning. But my goodness – there are times when it’s so easy to revert back to “talking at” our participants, isn’t it?
Looking back on that session, how could I have asked that question in a different way? Here are 7 ridiculously easy lecture alternatives that require little to no preparation, yet might have sparked a different outcome:
1. Brainstorming in small groups
2. Pairs interview one another on the topic
3. Create teams – list as many possible answers to the question in 3 minutes
4. Write key points to communicate on index cards – pass them out – participants read the key point, initiating discussion
5. Ask for specific examples from the group prior to the session
6. Poll the audience using a tool like PollEverywhere (one of my new favorite things!)
7. Incorporated the question into an icebreaker at the beginning of the session
Look, I’m not going to make a lofty aspiration to forevermore avoid moments of lecture. But let’s make a pact. A blood-brothers-sacred pact. You and me, dear reader:
Let’s be more mindful of those moments. And do something about them….to avoid those dreaded crickets.
Are you in?
Your turn: What are your go-to “lecture alternatives” to engage your audience? Share your best ideas and methods in the comments!
Know of a fellow facilitator who would appreciate this post? Be kind and share this post with your network!
Have you subscribed yet?
It’s easy to receive phase(two)learning goodness delivered directly to your inbox each week. Simply add your email address in the upper-right corner of this page. You’ll be glad you did!