Too Much of a Good Thing?

I ran a workshop yesterday – an interactive membership learning exercise for a group of 40 international network members – which gave me a moment to reflect on dynamics and the value of diversity of, well, practically everything.

In my workshops I like to keep things moving, to get people out of their seats to work, use different parts of the room, etc. and when one participant asked me if, for the next exercise, we were going to “stand up again”, it made me smile – had I over done it on the moving around?

Generally, due to an Appreciative Inquiry approach I tend not to look at what not to do, and at the same time this little list seemed useful (and could easily be turned around to a “what to do” list):

  • Don’t sit down too much;
  • Don’t stand up too much;
  • Don’t have too many interactive activities (people like to sit and reflect on their own too, or listen to a presentation from time to time);
  • Don’t write on flipchart templates too much (vary with cards, post-its, handouts, electronic templates);
  • Don’t stay in the same room too long, even if it is an excellent one (use a breakout room, the lobby, or send people outside for a walk);
  • Don’t have people sit in the same seat all day (or look at the same part of the wall) even if it means you might need to rethink about people’s names;
  • Don’t always ring a bell to signal the end of something (change with voice, clap, or other);
  • Don’t use the same colours or always draw very straight lines on your visuals (can you use circles or wavy lines too?);

I could go on – what else would you add when you want to remind yourself to vary things, even when what you are doing seems like a “good thing”?

2 replies
  1. Norcross elementary schools
    Norcross elementary schools says:

    Yes. I think at workshops, some people already feel a little hesitant about getting up and moving out of their comfort zone. But, you have to do it to get the most of your time. Good ideas like these can help in our classrooms for elementary students, too.

  2. Gillian Martin Mehers
    Gillian Martin Mehers says:

    You are very right to point out that some people find themselves out of their comfort zones with highly interactive workshops – especially with new groups, I would generally wait until after lunch on the first day to start doing more "radical" things with them. It is interesting to ask the organizer what "radical" might be – groups can be very different, for some used to very traditional, U-shaped, plenary with Q&A discussion formats, anything will be different and some people will love it and for others (who perhaps brought other reading or email to catch up on – ha!) activities where they are out of their seats all the time will be too different for their immediate liking. I guess knowing how and where to find the balance is part of the art of facilitation!

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