I thought it was only right to introduce some of my methods for my first blog – the first one is always a bit tricky to write considering I am currently just a head shot and web content to you at the minute. My five tricks are just simple little techniques I find myself regularly using in varying degrees within each programme. Please feel free to comment or leave your own five tricks of the trade for the rest of us to pinch!
Whether it’s a business meeting, a class or a discussion group, sometimes it’s tricky to get the conversation flowing. We’ll often start a discussion by providing an open question for our group to respond to, however in reality (and I can comfortably say that most people will have experienced this) we are met by blank faces and an awkward silence. Our gut instinct is to rephrase the question, try making it a bit simpler, or even try to make it sound a bit more interesting but surely this just confuses our original question? One way that I like to tackle this is to start with a closed question that requires a simple ‘yes, no’ answer. Sometimes people lose their voice – as strange as it sounds. When a room is very quiet and the only voice they hear is yours it can actually be quite difficult to speak up, even if you want to. Simply offering an opportunity to exercise the old vocals can help break those awkward silences.
2. Application of the aim
Games are really fun. I love to play games both in and out of work as many of my friends will tell you! I think the way a group responds to a game is very telling in regards to individual moods, group dynamics and their enthusiasm for the session in general. This might be a really obvious point to make but I think it is so important – I will always link a game I am playing to the aim of my session. I invite my group to discuss the purpose of each game and how it relates to our topic, for example how different ‘roles’ within a game make you feel (linking to emotions or particular social topics). I refrain from using ‘energy games’ or ‘focus games’ to change the dynamics of the room as this can be achieved much faster through an alternative facilitation style. For me, games should be very much part of the session and provide an alternative approach for exploring a topic.
I remember the very first session I ever led, I was working in a community centre with some lovely well behaved youngsters. I felt great, a real professional and a source for knowledge. When it’s appropriate I like to encourage my class members to have this moment for themselves by planning and facilitating their own exercises to lead in class. I think it develops their public speaking abilities and engagement in the subject matter. The group dynamics swiftly change from students to professionals and their responsibility in the session content is both respected and applauded by their peers.
4. New Leaf
Sometimes sessions don’t go quite to plan. This can be for a number of reasons – certain group members fail to arrive, a group rift has formed from an event outside of the session or they simply are not responding to my session plan. All of these things happen (sometimes simultaneously) so for me, I like to start afresh. I make an open and conscious decision to move the session onto something else with the consent of the group I am working with. I find this is a great opportunity to model good practise by demonstrating positive communication and honesty when things don’t go quite to plan.
I believe facilitating in any shape or form is a performance. We use particular skills and techniques to provide our class or group with an experience, plant an idea, challenge previous perceptions and so on. These skills are transferable to our classes by pointing out these techniques – they don’t need to be a secret. I often ask students to identify a technique I have used to provoke a particular response, for example my body language, tone, volume, pace and ask them to identify the effects of these techniques. I find this an engaging way of developing gestures and character development, as well as demonstrating how these techniques are used in our daily lives.