What makes you anxious when you participate in a workshop?

Will you be embarrassed? Will you be bored? Will you be disrespected? Will you waste your time? Where’s the door?

As facilitators, it’s our job to head off those fears of our participants.

I’ve learnt that the first 10 minutes are where we make that happen.

Those 10 minutes can create 4 vital conditions for success. (P.S. This is core practice for me. I do it quite rigorously!)

Participants know exactly why they’re there (= a crisp purpose statement)

Participants feel respected (= each person has been listened to, with respect, by at least one other person via an enjoyable 1:1 icebreaker)

Participants feel safe (= they’ve signed off on ground rules that protect and respect them, so they know they’re in good hands)

Participants know what to expect (= we’ve reviewed the running order).

Now the thing is, let’s not treat these like optional steps. Do them RIGOROUSLY. Write them into our plans, and continuously improve on our practice.

Now the fun bit

We can do all these steps interactively as a “call and response”. * See the sample script below. This lets us simultaneously convert our people into ACTIVE participants, not passive observers.

Now their fears have been calmed, and they’ve already begun to participate.

We’ve set up our workshop for success!

* We’ll practice each of these steps in the Facilitate with Confidence training on 24-25 October.
Booking and details here: www.enablingchange.com.au

P.S. Don’t drone on or elaborate. Get to the point quickly. That proves you also respect their time.

Here’s a sample script for the first 10 minutes:



“The purpose of this workshop is [just say it]. Are you in the right workshop? Show of hands!”

2) AN ENJOYABLE 1:1 ICEBREAKER. For example:

“Before we do anything… please stand up. In the next 5 minutes, how many people can you introduce yourself to and find something in common with? Go!”

3) GROUND RULES. For example:

“I’d like to suggest some ground rules [insert favourite ground rules]”. After each suggested rule, check “Are you OK with that? Show of hands!” [that locks it in].

4) RUNNING ORDER with timing. Review the order and make sure everyone has a copy. 

Of course there’s more involved in the success of the whole event (like food, fun, strategic purpose, motion, variety, good questions, time for deliberation, and commitment to follow up)…but I’ve found that so much of the good stuff happens in those first 10 minutes.

There are still places in the next workshop (as of 17 Sept):

Over two enjoyable mornings: 24-25 October. With a great bunch of colleagues.
(This time there’s a special emphasis on creating enjoyment and physical motion in workshops.)

All details and registration here: www.enablingchange.com.au