It’s one thing to recognize the importance of engaging learners by drawing information from them rather than telling them. However, how long do you wait for them to answer? The silence can be deafening to a trainer on a tight time schedule. And what do you do if the learner’s answer is incorrect? How do you make sure the group gets the correct answer without embarrassing the participant who got the answer wrong?
Waiting for Participant Responses
1. If you ask “Are there any questions?” make sure that you look around to see if there are any questions.
2. If you ask a specific question, make sure that you give the participants sufficient time to respond. You may need to … Read the rest
Given the choice between participants who never ask any questions and participants who ask a lot of questions, I prefer the latter. The fact that they have questions indicates that they are highly interested in the topic- and that’s a good thing!
- First of all, make sure everyone has heard the question before you answer it. Either repeat the question yourself, if other participants may not have heard it, or request that the individuals project more, so that others can hear what they are saying.
- To reinforce the questioner’s need to project, walk to the opposite side of the room from the participant who is speaking. Although this may seem counter intuitive (typically, we move closer to people we can’t
Checking for Comprehension
- Check for comprehension of the content. You can do this by asking questions or encouraging participants to provide some examples.
- After giving an assignment, walk around the room to be sure that they understand and are working on the correct assignment.
- Check with the participants occasionally- either in the large group, by talking with individuals during the break, or dip-sticking the small groups- to be sure that the pace is comfortable and everyone is on the same page with you.
- It is important to have the individual or group representatives report out after they have completed an exercise. Otherwise, they will not have any sense of closure.
- Draw out the correct or more complete answers
- It really helps to be there early to meet as many people as possible. This tends to lessen anxiety on all sides and creates a nice rapport between the trainer and the participants. Besides introducing yourself and asking the person’s name, ask also what they do and why they have come to the training. You will then have some familiar faces in the audience and may be able to refer to individuals by name.
- It is always a good device to ask common ground questions: “How many of youÉ?” in order to help people feel they have something in common. Make sure that you keep asking topic-relevant questions until everyone has been able to raise their hands.
- Avoid making assumptions
Over the past weeks, we have focused on the information that a facilitator needs to have in order to effectively deliver training. The answers to the eight questions involved in designing a facilitator guide will be different, depending upon the nature of the training and the specific needs of the facilitator.
However, I have found that it is almost always useful to include at the very beginning of any facilitator guide some general information about group facilitation techniques. This is prompted by the fact that most of the facilitator guides that I have developed have been for technical experts who were more familiar with lecture than with the participatory interaction built into the training.
Prior to getting into the group … Read the rest
There are at least five reasons why questions may be “hostile”- the asker: (1) disagrees with your position on a topic; (2) doesn’t like the subject matter; (4) doesn’t want to be in the class; (4) doesn’t like the client you represent; or (5) doesn’t like YOU!
In all cases, be courteous. Maintain your credibility and control, no matter what happens. Any time you get angry or defensive, it casts doubt on your entire presentation and you lose control. As Dorothy Leeds and Kristen Mohn suggest in PowerSpeak, “If someone deliberately tries to embarrass you, being polite is especially effective. Audiences appreciate fair play and good manners. They will automatically reject the person who is making trouble and … Read the rest