Transform participants experience into a lasting memory

transcript by Wayne Brown

Hello and welcome back. We’re so excited that you have made it this far and reached Part 3 of this trilogy called Transform participants experience to a lasting memory

The reason why we say you are in the top 10% of leaders related to facilitation is that most people struggle to commit to this level of learning and don’t reach this post-event stage. Let’s look back at what you have achieved so far.

In Part 1, our focus was on 5 key prep-steps under the heading of “Preparation leaders need, to achieve success,” during which time we introduced the Pre-event checklist for facilitators.

For Part 2, titled “Leaders need to learn how to facilitate,” – we explored 6 topics, from ringing the opening bell to pounding the closing bell. They spanned the duration of the workshop and were supported by the Facilitators’ Game Plan.

At the end of Part 2, we gave you a Call to Action – for you to apply what you had learned in Parts 1 & 2, before re-joining us today for Part 3 and unlocking the secrets to empowerment which you experience when you knowingly create behavioral change in the workplace.

The fact that you are listening to this today can mean only one thing – you have had a chance to practice your learnings and are ready for the final installment – if so, congratulations!

It’s great that you have taken the time and learned the ropes, so to speak. It’s a profession that can be highly rewarding once you know how to master it.

In Part 3 – the shortest of the 3 parts, we’ll learn how to Transform participants experience into a lasting memory, together with the last download in this series called the “Post-event guide for facilitators,” which, in addition to providing helpful advice and guidance, is filled with great insights, reference sites, and book suggestions. 

It’s a truly awesome way to round out this series. 

So what to expect from this final part? Well, it’s all about how we as facilitators can guide the post-workshop experience and create the mystical link between what was learned during and what is implemented post the workshop. I’m going to break it into 3 clusters. 

They are – the Fundamentals, the Foundation layers, and the bridge builders, and if you look at your downloaded Post-event guide, you will notice that pages 2 to 4 each have one of these headings.

For the fundamentals – these are the given activities which should follow each workshop, but happen surprisingly few times – at least this has been our experience.

Those foundation layers – are steps which provide opportunities and enable the participants to recall learnings, discuss and learn from others experience.

And finally, the bridge builders – well, these are the futurists, using tools and methods only made possible through big & microdata analytics, AI, and machine learning. A landscape where individual adaptive refresher learning is now a reality.  

The success of each of these clusters is based on the premise that spaced repetition increases knowledge retention, which in turn heightens the potential for competence, skill, and or knowledge to be put into practice. Thereby providing tangible ROI. The holy grail of all learning bodies.

Let’s dive into those 5 Fundamental activities we see and use as a first step in the post-workshop setting. These tend to be well known but finding the time to practice them is a stretch for many.

  1. So the first one – The facilitator provides their contact details along with an open offer for responding to participant questions after the event. 

It’s a generous offer and could be an all-consuming pastime depending on the volume of workshops facilitated and the number of participants that take up the request to utilize such a resource. 

We’ve tracked this approach over the years and are always surprised and disappointed by the low take-up rate. 

  1. With the second – The facilitator obtains from each participant a verbal commitment on what they will do immediately following the workshop. 

A close cousin to this approach, but a much more useful version is the request for participants to set 2 -3 next steps and write them down as a SMART action. I’m sure you can see why this is the stronger option of the two. Having something in writing helps in the area of memory retention and provides an opportunity for further focus.

  1. #3 Is the follow-up group email with an attached summary of key learnings support by a pictorial journey as a memory from the event. 

Even more powerful again, if the mail is sent to individuals, with a personal message offering encouragement to pursue their actions.

It used to be common practice in many organizations to send out a “participant who’s who” as part of this mail, but that may have to be revised now given GDPR.

  1. #4 The 1 – 3 month follow-up survey or quiz. This is something designed by the facilitator and should target the desired learning objectives before creating the workshop. 

It serves as a useful tool in refreshing the memory of participants on topics often long forgotten. 

  1. And #5 – The most beneficial and valuable of the 5 actions listed here and which has been studied and proven to be highly effective is the post-workshop Supervisor/participant review, where this couple comes together to discuss the event, the learnings, and the implementation of those learnings. 

At first glance, this may not seem to involve the facilitator. Still, as simple a step as it seems, it often takes the facilitator’s repeated prompting for both parties to turn this concept into reality.

Our recommendation is that you strive to ensure all of these activities are realized. The more active you can stimulate the participants through any of these steps, the better the retention level.

Next, we move to the foundation layers. There are numerous studies available that indicate that companies who are making this level of investment on refresher learnings are reaping the benefits.

These foundation layers are also not foreign to many facilitators. Still, they are less practiced than the fundamentals, largely as they don’t always come as part of the facilitator’s brief and can rest more within the companys’ responsibility. 

Regardless it is in the interests of every facilitator to understand the importance of all tools available, particularly if they have a positive impact on behavior change. For these foundation layers, we are listing 5 more examples that could be practiced.

  • #1 -Establish a social-media group for networking, answering questions, providing key material from the workshop and new material post-workshop. This is quite popular today among many 
    • it’s an easy and inexpensive approach to keeping the participants centered on the learnings and helps develop that all-important support network. 
  • The refresher webinars or conference calls – typically, we’d recommend two of these for important workshops. The first would be conducted within the first month to review the topics and answer questions, while the second within 3 months to listen and gather examples of real-life experiences. 

It’s a simple but effective approach to follow the F2F workshop. Personally, we prefer the webinar instead of the conference call largely because of the ability to review content. 

  • Many companies today provide access to online material via mobile, tablet, or computer.  

Realizing this capability and providing follow-up bite-sized refresher nuggets using methods such as short eLearnings, nano or micro-videos, podcasts, simulations, etc., are a great resource for participants as and when they most need it. 

This is an area we expect to see growing considerably in the coming years.

  • The use of tandem partners or a buddy system, where you leverage support from a colleague that attended the same workshop, is currently in vogue. However, our observations to date are that the effectiveness is quite patchy, with many participants struggling to find the time to sync the meeting or call. 

Despite this downside, the practice itself can work quite well if the two people are willing to share and open up to the potential learnings available. It’s like having a personal business mentor for a short period of time.

  • Again we have left the most effective of these 5 methods to last. Having the facilitator acting like a 1 on 1 or 1 on group coach provides a special insight and drives participants to utilize their learnings.      

Whereas there is an element of self-commitment required in the previous 4 approaches, in this instance, having the facilitator calling you in person to enquire about your progress places a little more onus on the participant.

If all foundation layers were options, together with all of the fundamentals, you would be in a very healthy position to select which approaches would be most suited to your workshop participants – as not one size fits all. 

For information purposes, however, we would lean more towards the foundation layers as they have proven more effective in recent times. 

Now onto the final cluster, which we have branded the bridge builders. 

As the name suggests, these babies really start to make the impossible possible.

These bridge builders are where we enter into new territory for most facilitators and companies, for that matter. 

It’s the ground for the true pioneers, those willing and able to leverage breakthrough technology by adopting the benefits of big and microdata for analytical purposes and the harness the power of supercomputers utilizing AI and machine learning programs. 

Numerous companies have been quick to jump on the bandwagon of these developments. Still, as of today, the end of 2018, few have been able to master them, particularly within our elevator-escalator tribe.

  • To kick start this group, however, we are throwing in a low-tech option – at least by today’s standards – into this category. It’s the field of selfies or at least their advanced sister of self-made videos, which capture actions via the mobile and are edited from the same tool with the support of free downloadable apps. 

These self-made, short videos demonstrating practices in the real world have taken a relatively simple concept to a powerful new level where everyone can play the role of expert and showcase their prowess on any topic of choice. 

Imagine encouraging your participants to shoot their own self-made video to demonstrate their learnings as a part of their daily activities—a powerful, fun way of locking in a practice. 

  • Virtual reality has been around for decades but is primarily used in arcade games or the now hugely popular gaming world. In more recent years, we have seen VR move into our learning space with simulations for functions like sales and safety.  

Our expectation however, is that we will see VR evolve quite quickly as it runs the risk of becoming outdated technology now that major development companies are turning their attention towards AR. 

While a very useful learning tool in the right applications, it does have limitations with the need to have the equipment hardware successfully deployed and available for each participant.

#3 – A relatively new approach is that of Adaptive learning, which is using the same analytics and machine learning approach of the major search engines today. 

Despite its recent entry into our learning landscape, it has made quite an impact already with the early adopters. You will see in the Post-event guide a list of 10 vendors all offering something in this field. 

Essentially the process is based on software that transforms your content into bite-sized 3-5 minute daily follow-up questions with an escalating level of difficulty. Depending on the development company, this software adapts the questions based on the participants’ responses and can assess the answers on a knowledge and competence level. 

This helps to ensure the depth of understanding and retention.   

  • Finally and one of the most exciting to reach our shores is the onset of augmented and mixed reality (or perhaps soon a combination of AR & VR) – while AR is still very new, it is already being utilized quite heavily in many industrial sectors such aerospace, automotive and to a lesser extent our own industry – primarily to enhance business applications and processes. 

However, we believe with the money being poured into research by most of the large wealthy tech companies, major progress and breakthroughs are just around the corner. 

Once this happens, of course, it won’t be long before it        becomes affordable enough to become more mainstream in our part of the world. 

Picture the scenario where a hologram can be presented and interacted with from any corner of the world at the same time and facilitated by one expert in any location, using simultaneous translation technology to overcome the language barriers. 

This will transform the learning space and change our approach for all aspects pre, during, and post-delivery.

Admittedly these bridge builders are not on the menu for everyone at this moment, but the future landscape is so dynamic and exciting, we thought it worth including them on the radar for all and placing at least a couple in your wish list letter to Santa Claus this Christmas. 

As AI develops at lightning speed, who knows what will be next?

As mentioned, you will see it listed in your Post-event guide for facilitators 10 of the various adaptive Learning software. 

If you don’t know much about this technology, it’s worth doing your research, as we believe this is the next major leap forward with our ability to embed learning.

Additionally, in this guide, you will notice on the final pages a series of reference sources – these are books, websites, TED Talks, and videos – many of which we have used in researching the material for this series. 

While they’re just the tip of the iceberg, they offer you the opportunity to expand your knowledge on the profession of facilitation. 

If you’ve taken the time to listen and work through all 3 parts of this podcast, we know you’re serious about improving your ability in this field and wish you well with your endeavors going forward. 

We trust we’ve been able to support your journey and provide some useful tools that will make this pursuit a little simpler.

We’ve really enjoyed the challenge of producing this series and are looking forward to our future podcasts. Here’s a sampling of the subjects we’ll be covering;

  • Peak performance & flow
  • The Change dilemma
  • Effective delegation
  • Offering feedback 
  • Conflicts for leaders
  • Cultural awareness in our global world
  • Dealing with values & beliefs
  • Leading through diversity & inclusion
  • Millennials vs. Baby Boomers
  • Adult learning theories
  • Corporate education
  • To coach or mentor
  • Leadership strategies
  • And Our future office

Well, that’s it for now. We look forward to you joining us again as we build and enhance your leadership capabilities together. 

Be sure to check out our blog site www.amentorscouch.com, where I play the role of your Coach. Together with three other elevator-escalator tribal groups, “Our Legends,” “Our Innovators,” and “Our Cheque Writers,” we are regularly posting new articles, podcasts, and videos – each aimed at sharing our experience and passing on some learnings. 

Until then, take care and happy facilitating.

What preparation do leaders need to achieve success?

The first epidsode in a trilogy focusing on Leadership Facilitation

transcript by Wayne Brown

Welcome to this trilogy focused on Facilitation – the title of the series is Highly effective facilitation for every leader and in this episode Part 1 – Preparation leaders need to achieve success, we focus on 5 key prep-steps.

As the previous couchTALK introduction episode mentions, the aim of this show is to bring learning opportunities to executives of our tribe, through the experiences and insights of the collective tribe members themselves. Like-minded individuals that are networked globally and offering up their experience and knowledge through discussions and interviews for the betterment of our industry.

We also ask our colleagues from outside the industry – those that are members of a different tribe but which heavily influence our own – these architects, consultants, developers, property owners and managers, even the end user who all share in-valuable insights about what they see as our challenges and opportunities, even requirements.

In this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world we face today, we all need whatever assistance we can obtain. So in addition to the above, I will act as your host and Coach, providing those more formal learnings moments.

We kick start this trilogy on Facilitation under “Highly effective facilitation for every leader and this episode as Part 1 – Preparation leaders need to achieve success”. Why commence with facilitation – well as John Naisbitt says;

“Our new Leaders need to be facilitators, not order givers”.

Establishing your pre-event checklist – how many of you recreate the wheel every time you come to the task of facilitating?

Sure, over time your level of comfort may increase and certain routines are established, but I’m guess most of you won’t be facilitating regularly, right? Perhaps you’re still in the early stages of grounding yourself as a new or young leader and therefore the last thing you need to burden yourself with is any added pressure.

Trying to understand those key steps which we need to follow, does nothing to calm the nerves or enable you to facilitate effectively. Hence, during part 1 of this podcast we’ll run through 5 key prep-steps, which we’re quietly confident will provide you the essentials to nail this critical stage. We a sneak peek at the titles of those 5 steps;

Prep step #1:   Know your audience

Prep step #2:   Know your event and agenda

Prep step #3:   Create the venue environment 

Prep step #4:   Prepare your tools & questions

Prep step #5:   Prepare your mind & your agility

And just to be sure, we’ll be providing you with a copy of this “Pre-event checklist for facilitators”, which you can download and save for use whenever a facilitation opportunity comes your way. Who knows – rather than dread this process, perhaps you will even start to feel so confident that you will seek out opportunities to practice and showcase your talents. We’re hoping so anyway and are ready to support you on that journey.

Reference links mentioned during the podcast;

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