How to Engage Unwilling Participants
Facilitator Tips Episode 22

3 Simple Strategies To Engage Unwilling Participants


This week’s Facilitator Tips episode shares three of the most powerful strategies I have used to engage unwilling participants in his programs.

You know, those participants who, at first glance, are not interested in being involved and often make it difficult for others.


<< Go to Episode 21   Go to Episode 23 >>


The techniques I describe are preventative and remedial in nature, and they can be applied to all settings in which you are responsible for the well-being of others.

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Video Transcript


Hello and welcome to Episode 22 of the Facilitator Tips video series. My name is Mark Collard. I’m an experiential trainer and an author, and today I want to focus on how do you engage unwilling participants. How do you engage those people who don’t want to get involved?

And here are a few strategies that I’ve found that have been really useful because one of the most common questions I get from people is if only I can engage my group everything else would be simple. And so here’s a few strategies that have been successful at doing that.

First of all the key is to make it fun. Now I don’t mean it has to be ha-ha-ha type of fun. It just needs to be something that nourishes the soul, that doesn’t threaten someone, it doesn’t embarrass them. And because fun is so disarming, it’s a really powerful magnet to engage people to participate that maybe at first glance they weren’t too sure about. So consider how much of what you’re doing is actually fun that would be attracting people’s attention and engagement.

Really critically, and we talked about this in Episode 6 of this series, you want to honour choice. Now, this is more than just simply saying yes or no. It’s really important that as a facilitator one of your primary responsibilities is to create an environment in which people make appropriate choices.

And if one of those appropriate choices is to help people participate, to engage, to get the content, then you need to think about that environment that you’re creating that actually permits people to make those choices. So honour their choice. If maybe at first glance they don’t want to do it, that’s okay, but maybe further on as they become more comfortable with what’s happening, they may make a different decision.

And then finally maybe just quickly check in. There’s lots of great reasons why people aren’t participating, sitting off to the sidelines or keeping quiet. So you want to be able to actually connect with them. And it might be that they’re maybe feeling uncomfortable and just need a bit of time to warm up or they’re nursing an injury or many other reasons.

But here’s another thing and this is my last minute tip, is that sometimes when I’ve got those really disengaged folks, I’ll give them a survey. I say okay, out of 10, 0 being absolutely not interested to 10 being super-enthusiastic, how would you rate your level of enthusiasm or willingness to be part of this. Now generally they’re going to score it really low because they’re clearly not involved. They might give it a 2, 3, or a 4.

And then you might think my next question is, oh, so why didn’t you rate it any higher. A better question to ask is, well, why did you rate it as high as you did, why didn’t you rate it something lower. What that suggests is that there’s just a little bit of interest in the activity, and you can work on that strength. So consider that as a way to be able to motivate those people to at least put their toe into the water.

So that’s the end of this episode in this series of monthly… in fact, they come out a couple of times a week… No, they don’t. They actually only come out twice a month. This is really what I meant to say.

Check out the show notes. If you want more information and many other links to this information, go to www.playmeo.com Episode 22.

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Until then, see you. Bye-bye.


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