I attended a full-day training session with a number of colleagues awhile ago.
The entire day was meant to be an interactive session – sharing stories, discussing ideas, answer questions on the material – in general more of a collaborative, engagement session vs powerpoint.
In the first half of the session, everyone was offering answers and suggestions to the discussion, but over the course of the day, the questions started to drop off, the hands were no longer going up as fast as they were before, people were being called upon by name instead of offering up their own ideas.
In short – the audience had checked out and was no longer participating.
It was no surprise – from the start of the session, the moderator, although great at asking questions, was not keen on listening to the answers or hearing different viewpoints but instead more intent on getting through the material, based on their own experiences and stories.
The collaborative discussion was there to get the ball rolling, but there was none to be had.
As presenters and trainers, there is a trap that lurks every time we get on stage where we feel we have to portray ourselves as the Master of our Domain, we have all the answers, we are up here presenting to you.
But we don’t.
We have an idea, a focus, a suggestion for how you can approach the problem. The best presenters, acknowledge what has worked well for them, what hasn’t and modifies their pitch on the fly. It isn’t easy, it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not a feeling that ever goes away.
But the outcome of such an approach, is an engaged audience, from start to finish that leave the session not only feeling as though they learned something, but that they contributed to future sessions in some way, shape or form.
It’s an engagement you can’t buy, but one you can benefit from beyond the initial session.