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Maximize Session Impact: 3 Strategies for Facilitators

By Annamarie Lang

Recently for work, I had the opportunity to travel internationally and meet with DDI-certified facilitators from around the world. During my whirlwind tour, I sought to uncover how facilitators view their role, and what words of wisdom they might share to help other veteran facilitators or even those just getting started. I would probably have to blog for a year to share all of the great advice, but I’m assuming you don’t have quite that much time to spend here. So let’s just dive into my top three nuggets of wisdom for facilitators. Hopefully, these ideas will either reaffirm what you’re already doing or offer up new strategies for maximizing the impact of your next delivery.

  1. 3 Strategies for Facilitators Put the learner first. Do you frame your offerings by sharing the objectives of the training with learners and their leaders? Many times, facilitators put the course or program objectives in emails or marketing materials, which is a great start. However, I challenge facilitators to put the learner and their needs first. How? Change how you market the courses by framing the objectives into problem or issue questions that learners might face. For example, instead of “In the course you’ll learn how to have successful difficult coaching conversations by focusing on…”, why not try “Do you struggle with those tough coaching conversations—especially when the employee is generally good, but you need to share just a few things that aren’t going well?” You get the idea! This way puts the learner’s needs first, and it allows them to choose a course that has relevance and meaning to their everyday work challenges. They are more apt to attend READY to apply what they learned!
  2. Find creative ways to engage the quiet learner. As part of the DDI Facilitator Certification Process, there are skills that are paramount for facilitators to practice consistently in and out of the classroom. One of those is to maintain or enhance learner self-esteem. In the classroom, enhancing self-esteem is much easier than maintaining it. What is interesting is that many times I hear facilitators say they would "call on" or "call out" a quiet learner. If we really think about our role as facilitators and stewards of the classroom, we can’t forget that creating a safe learning environment is an important part of our job. If we look at adult learning theorynot everyone learns the same way and we as facilitators should honor that. Every situation is unique, but I want to challenge us as facilitators to find more creative ways to engage the quiet or silent learner. Is there a friendly little quiz you can have learners take prior to the session to gauge how outgoing they are? You can then arrange tables accordingly to make sure the quiet learner is seated at a “fun” table. Put the onus on US as facilitators instead of taking the easy route of "calling on" that quiet, possibly introspective, learner. We then can engage that quiet learner while maintaining our credibility.
  3. Tie it back to the business. Every moment we are in the classroom is an opportunity to tie everything we facilitate back to the business of the learner's organization. Often, we offer excellent courses and content but fall short of highlighting why and how this can help the learner be successful in driving the organization’s or business unit’s objectives. If your learners are taking time to attend, you have to make EVERY effort you can to tie the learning back to their needs. There are many ways you can better understand the needs of business. Some include interviewing operational leaders ahead of the class, or at the start of the session ask learners to share their BIGGEST business challenges—then you as the facilitator relate back to those as often as possible. In the end, facilitators have an opportunity to be change agents in the learners' organizations. Your role and what you do every day—helping adult learners wade through challenges they face by offering them tools and tips through training—make you a change agent and such a valuable asset to YOUR organization.

Facilitators are passionate professionals who love to share their experiences. These three nuggets are just a few of the amazing things I heard during my trip. Want more tips from fellow facilitators? Join our LinkedIn group (if you haven’t done so already) and join in on a discussion. Better yet, start a new one!

Annamarie Lang is a senior consultant in DDI’s Leadership Solutions Group.

Posted: 10 Feb, 2015,
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