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This week’s Facilitator Tips episode shares a number of useful and practical strategies to help you keep your group’s attention.
Just getting your group’s attention sometimes can be hard enough (see Episode 11 for more details about how to do this,) but maintaining their interest for sustained and long periods of time can be even more difficult. This episode will share some simple, yet powerful tips.
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Hello and welcome to Episode 24 of the Facilitator Tips video series.
My name is Mark Collard. I’m an experiential trainer and author, and today I want to focus on how do you keep your group’s attention. It’s a bit like how do we engage them but it’s more in a longer context, how do we allow that attention to always be regenerated.
Here’s a few things that I’ve learned. The first part and you probably hear this frequently if you’re familiar with our series, you’ve got to keep it fun. That doesn’t mean they have to always be laughing, but there’s a sense of willingness to be able to participate because they feel that this is a safe, positive place to be. So the more you do that, the more likely people are going to continue to want to engage.
Also, connect the dots. It’s a bit like that old saying in public speaking, tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. If you can help them understand why and what they’re doing, on occasions, it can help them answer the question in their mind about how they can add meaning to what they’re doing to the overall context of your program.
But then, of course, the other side to that is I really believe that preserving the adventure, that unanticipated outcome, is a great way to build suspense and engagement. If you just tell them in pieces, or for example when I ask for a volunteer I never say what we’re going to do before I ask for the volunteer. I ask for the volunteer, I build the suspense, everyone’s wondering what they’re going to be doing, and then with a volunteer with me I then demonstrate what we’re about to do. So preserving the adventure can be really useful in maintaining that attention.
Build connections. This is a long-term objective, a long-term strategy. But the stronger you make those trusting and healthy relationships, the longer you’re going to keep people’s attention because people feel connected.
And then finally, take breaks. If you’re familiar with TED at ted.com the TED Talks, they’re all under 20 minutes long for a very good reason. That’s about as long as most adults can maintain concentration, and when it comes to young people it’s even shorter. So keep that in mind when you’re expecting a long-term focus. You may need to break it up in pieces.
And here’s my last minute tip. Be gentle. Sometimes we ask too much or expect too much of our groups, especially young people but adults as well sometimes, that maybe we just need to be a little bit more gentle about what we can expect from them, and it’s more likely they’re going to be successful.
And that’s it for this episode.
If you want to get the show notes or further links related to this topic, go to our show notes at playmeo.com/facilitatortips/episode24.
And by all means, leave a comment. Maybe you’ve got some ideas about the ways in which you maintain your group’s attention.
Until then, I’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.
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