We all know the scenario… You walk into a professional learning event, curious about the upcoming learning and desperately hoping for a quality facilitator who will be engaging and dynamic. I think this expectation is even higher when the audience are educators themselves.
Last Thursday was one of these occasions and I must admit to being a little sceptical arriving for a Team Management Styles (TMS) professional learning event with our team. I was a little sceptical about the value of learning having ‘endured’ the TMS program previously and because I strongly believe that crap presenters can ruin any learning.
Within 5 minutes I was freshly surprised. The facilitator was outstanding. From the moment people entered the room, he engaged in conversation and began to develop rapport with participants. Preparation is key. He had everything ready to go – presentation slides, flip charts, room arrangement, handouts and resources were set up well in advance of the audience arriving. It’s really poor form on behalf of presenters to still be preparing the room when participants are arriving.
Facilitators need to be dripping in knowledge of their content. It is blatantly obvious when a facilitator knows and believes in what they are presenting. Passion is not something that can be faked. Our facilitator was passionate. He new his content extremely well so was able to answer questions in an informed manner. Furthermore, he demonstrated application of his content knowledge throughout the day when interacting with people.
Our facilitator weaved an engaging narrative throughout the day as he introduced content, mixed with a range of anecdotes and personal experiences. Story telling is a powerful method for transferring information and ideas. Australia’s indigenous people have a rich history, told through narrative, that has endured with thousands of years. Professional learning can have similar longevity when information is presented in the form of a narrative. It’s not an easy thing to do but it is definitely achievable with some practice and preparation. If you are not sure what this look like, take a look at any number of TED Talks. There is a reason why we find them so engaging and inspiring.
Facilitating professional learning for adults can be loads of fun and a great experience for the facilitator and participants if it’s done well.