“Training is a process,
not an event. The greater
the interaction, the
greater the results.”
—Bob Pike, CPLP Fellow,
CSP, CPAE, Chairman of
What works exceedingly well in a
45-minute format may be a killer if
presented the same way over three to
six hours. There is an ebb and flow to
your audience’s energy levels.
Of course, there is the danger of
too much interaction. My mother
once complained after a workshop,
“We didn’t learn anything. We would
play a game, after which the facilitator
would say, ‘Turn to your neighbor and
tell them something you discovered.’”
Many trainers choreograph their
workshops by following the 7/20 rule:
Every seven minutes change your
method of delivery (video, story). Every
20 minutes get your attendees involved
(activity, movement, small group).
Audience members especially
enjoy learning more about themselves as individuals and about
their fellow participants. Consider
conducting a short assessment, then
interacting with the participants
about their results.
Here is an example of one approach
that incorporates all three keys. This
technique allows both introverts and
extroverts to share their ideas while
including significant interaction and
allowing the participants to shape the
content of the workshop. Be ready
with your humorous stories to illustrate the likely responses.
Use multicolored sticky notes.
Pick one color for questions and
ask several of the participants (five to
nine) to write down an open-ended
question relevant to the day’s topic
that they would like to have answered.
Each question should be on its own
sticky note and uniquely numbered.
Affix the notes to the wall in numerical order, leaving room to put additional
sticky notes beneath each one.
Slowly read the questions to the
group. Do not identify the writers of
the questions in any way.
Ask audience members to write
one response per question on a
different colored sticky note and reference the number of the question they
are answering. Each participant can
answer multiple questions, each on a
Have participants place their sticky-note responses below the question
they are answering.
Pick an attendee to read each
question and the responses to the
group. Choose someone in the session
who has enjoyed getting attention or
who has a clear, strong voice.
The participants have just framed
the content of the workshop and significantly contributed to the solutions.
Now you can weave your content and
funny stories throughout to capitalize
on this interactive approach.
“People will pay much
more for entertainment
than they ever will for
TED JANUSZ, MBA, CSP, has
facilitated more than 800 content-rich, highly
interactive, engagingly humorous workshops
in 49 of the 50 United States, across Canada
from Halifax to Vancouver, and in Australia and
Puerto Rico. firstname.lastname@example.org
Adults spend millions of dollars each
year to hear comedians and go to comedy clubs, yet nobody has ever spent
as much as a dime to see a PowerPoint
Done well, humor can be used to
boost energy in the low spots, humanize the presenter, and relax the mind
so it’s ready to take in more of the
heavier content. The best humor often
shines through funny, personal stories
that can illustrate a point. If you have
deep expertise in your topic, you likely
can mine your own experience to find
funny stories that are completely on
topic and cannot possibly be a repeat
of someone else’s humor.
How do you fare on these three elements? Is it time for an audit? Invite
an NSA colleague to attend your
session and keep a timeline of content, interaction, and humor. Where
were the highs and the lows in energy
level? What humor sparked and what
fell flat? Use the feedback to make a
good workshop even better. ■