Box of Crayons Blog


My Best Facilitation Tips: How I Engage a Group

One of the pleasures of my job is in leading our Box of Crayons’ programs. As every manager who has ever facilitated a meeting, or coached a group of people knows, facilitation can be a daunting task.

Recently I worked with a group of people from Sunnybrook Hospital observed by my colleague Matthew Vroomen who is an Organizational Development Associate at Sunnybrook. He took pretty comprehensive notes about what he noticed about my technique and I thought it would be interesting to have Matthew share his insights so we could discuss some of the practicalities and subtleties of what it means to be a really effective facilitator and presenter. Quite frankly, this was less me more interviewing Matthew and more him interviewing me…

(If you’d like to see some of my very best tips all neatly packaged, check out our Presentation Genius cards.)

In this interview Matthew and I discuss:

  • Why presenters are wired to misinterpret audience signals
  • How to increase a sense of “tribiness” to more deeply engage the audience from the very beginning
  • The importance of 30-minute agenda sets vs. the big picture
  • Tips for going with the flow of the room
  • Presentation design strategies

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Matthew Vroomen

0:01:40: Michael and Matthew discuss how to engage the audience, keep the mood upbeat and keep the energy going throughout the day.

0:5:00: Michael goes on to explain how our brains our wired, and how presenters and workshop leaders can often misinterpret signals from the audience. Mathew asks Michael about his pre-session preparation and how he calms himself before presenting.

0:10:32: Matthew admits to getting out his stopwatch and the two discuss how to manage seminar and presentation time effectively, in a way that allows for flexibility. Michael explains his seven-minute rule. Mathew and Michael talk about key things a novice or occasional presenter should remember.

0:15:19: Michael delves into why reflecting a question back to the room can assist in sharing the wisdom of the group and create a better learning experience.

0:19:14: Matthew and Michael exchange ideas on how to build predictability into the instructional technique as a way of developing a sense of comfort to reinforce and facilitate learning. Michael outlines his approach of “teach a bit, practice a bit, reflect and debrief a bit.”

One Response to My Best Facilitation Tips: How I Engage a Group

  • Wendy Macdonald

    Insightful interview. Thank you Michael and Matthew for being so open and willing to share so that we can all get better at helping our facilitator colleagues improve our skills as we help others Find Their Great Work.

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