On the call were Andrea Snyder, Kate Kosturski, Michael Porter, Jill Hurst-Wahl, and Maurice Coleman. We began with the topic: How do we connect with our learners, whether it is a workshop or a speaking gig or webinar? What tips or tricks do we use?
As background, Jill has been listening to a nearly two-hour interview with Seal (the singer). At one point, Seal talks about advice he was given early in his career. He had a hit (“Crazy“) and was on a popular music TV show in England. A colleague told him that the performance was “good”, but that he hadn’t connected. She said Seal would know when he had done it.
Tips mentioned were:
- Provide some background on yourself to help build rapport.
- Give the learners power by engaging them in the conversation.
- Food! – In all seriousness, it helps people be comfortable and know that their needs will be met.
- Assigned seating, so that people aren’t with their usual cliques.
How do you know that you “lost the room”?
- Are people looking at you, every once in a while?
- Scan the room. Is the behavior in the room changing?
- Is there someone who is a “canary”? For example, someone who unconsciously will nod her/his head “yes” when the person gets it.
Reading the room is a soft-skill. Can it be taught?
It was pointed out that sometimes you have to power-through a training, even if you’ve lost the room.
Can you have someone in the audience that gives you feedback or ensures that there is engagement?
Managing the flow of the training is a soft-skill that a trainer needs to learn. Managing the flow means the person needs to be flexible and nimble. The person needs to know the content well and be able to alter priorities on-the-fly, if necessary.
One other soft skill is learning how to hide the butterflies (or worries).
What do you do before you present to an audience that you don’t know?
- Take a few deep, focused breathes.
- Close your eyes and do deep breathing.
- Put on lip balm and hand lotion, and check your zipper.
- Empty your pockets. (Your pants or outfit will look better.)
- Go to the bathroom. If you have a lavalier mic, turn it off or take it off.
- Take some time to yourself right before. Center down and calm yourself.
You can listen to the show here.