This post is the fourth & final instalment of articles designed to help you effectively lead large group programs.
- What’s So Special About Large Groups?
- Essential Tips for Working with Large Groups – Part 1
- Essential Tips for Working with Large Groups – Part 2
- How To Get Your Group’s Attention (this one)
Continuing our series of practical large-group leadership strategies, I’m excited to share this important bonus strategy – how to get your group’s attention without losing your voice.
These strategies are useful for all groups, no matter their size, especially if they are large.
Once again, these ideas are all drawn from my book Count Me In: Large Group Activities That Work.
Bonus #11. Get Their Attention
In my opinion, if you can’t be heard or generally fight to get the attention of your group, forget working with large groups. It’s just too hard.
Or, if this is not an option, try some of my favourite attention-getters.
I ‘tips me hat’ to many years spent at summer camp, countless programs and tons of public-speaking gigs for these gems. Some are more appropriate for young people than adults, but all are equally effective.
- Raise your hand, and instruct your group to raise their hand when they see any hands raised. Like my old summer camp leader used to say, “When the hand goes up, the mouth goes shut.”
- Say in your normal conversation voice, “If you can hear me, clap once,” to invite all those within earshot to follow suit (clap.) Then continue with “If you can hear me, clap three times” (clap, clap, clap.) And so on, until the room gets the message. Change the number of claps to gauge the level of listeningness.
- Clap in a pattern. Similar to the above technique, this time, you start clapping a particular beat or tune and repeat it several times.
- Snap your fingers. Works a treat, but I find my fingers get tired quickly.
- Count down with a loud “FIIIIVE, FOOOUR, THREEEE…”. If you have them trained, by the time you get to three, most of the group will be with you.
- Throw a ball in the air and catch it. Train your group in advance that when the ball is in the air, they can make as much noise as they like, and when the ball is caught, everyone must suddenly fall silent. You must repeat this several times to get the desired attention. Have fun in the beginning when training with several fake throws and drops of the ball.
- Stand up and talk very softly. Very soon, a wave of recognition will flow through the group that says, “Sshhhhh…” Be sure that the initial things you say are nonsense. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that everyone in your group heard your very important message.
- Simply wait. When the time I’m wasting is not mine nor precious, I’ll happily stand silently and wait for my group to notice me. It can take a while but is the least costly regarding energy.
What’s the weirdest stunt I’ve pulled to get my group’s attention, I hear you ask?
Once, with a large corporate crowd, I struggled to get anyone to hear me – so I calmly lay prostrate on the floor and waited. Took only 10 seconds. Hilarious.
This concludes my list of
ten eleven essential tips for working with large groups effectively.
I hope you took away a few useful ideas.
How To Work with Large Groups & Survive
Essential Large Group Tips: Part 1
Essential Large Group Tips: Part 2