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Blog: Blog2

Strategies to Improve and Promote Engagement

“She’s an engaging facilitator!”

I bet you’re thinking… great, what exactly does that mean? Are you just born that way?

Well, you may have a natural proclivity, and I personally have always been an animated person & able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. However, that is not to speak for the larger percentage of people that struggle with engaging an audience to deliver a message that resonates, and is heard. This not only goes for physical meetings, but comes right down to something that we do more of now - Live Videos.

I still remember getting ready to participate in my first Moot Court at university… the facts racing through my mind and a sweaty brow line forming fast. My Uncle Andre (Director at Ariel Group Australia) looked at me and said, “Bon, you need to take a deep breath and imagine yourself like you’re 10 feet tall. Stand with your hands on your hips, just like this (as he demonstrated)…I call this the “Superman Pose” he said.

I looked at him and thought to myself “...what on earth are you on about”. I gave it a go anyway... and it gave birth to my true comprehension of our psychology driving our physiology... that we need to constantly fuel our mind and body with intentional positive thoughts, affirmations and actions to give life to our magic.

In hindsight, and knowing what i know now Uncle A was really on the money! Not only about that but many things that add value in a facilitation and leadership capacity. In later years I have found myself implementing little "1% ers" to continuously improve my level of engagement when facilitating or leading meetings, sales training, onboarding, meeting with new prospects, or even zoom calls. Working across multiple industries including but not limited to Advertising, Insurance (personal & general), Finance, Health and Fitness, Martial Arts, Direct Selling, Building & Construction and more, one thing is an absolute consistent truth - Being engaging is a completely learnable skill, so here are my top tips:

Enthusiasm For Days

Enthusiasm is the “secret sauce” that separates the most successful people in any profession from all the rest. It’s not sufficient by itself, but it is required. A great facilitator and friend of mine based in Dubai, UAE Patrick Osman does this so well. You can connect with Patrick and his content on social media here.

Authenticity 101

People can smell what is fake from a mile away. You will not be able to get through to participants unless you show up as real and authentic.

Confident Benevolence

Say what? Let’s break it down… Benevolence means having other’s best interests in mind and approaching others with an assumption that they mean well – expecting best of others. Confident benevolence means showing your confidence without it trumping your humility and focus on others. It means respecting your own worth while respecting others.

Be Approachable

Sometimes when we are concerned about being seen as credible, we can come across as aloof, cold, self-important or detached. So humility and an intentional focus on others welfare will help you come across as approachable. Smile, make eye contact and relax!

Be Interested, To Be Interesting

In our quest to be seen as experts or to gain respect, we can put excessive emphasis on what we came to share. Instead, shift your focus to the learners and activate your curiosity. ASK QUESTIONS. Be genuinely interested in others’ ideas, questions, objections, concerns or perspectives. People are instantly drawn to others who show interest in them.

Use Self-depreciating Humour

If you show that you don’t take yourself too seriously, you will allow learners to relax and take themselves a little less seriously, too. This will help them be more open to learning and experimentation and less concerned about keeping up appearances.

Body and Voice Congruence

When we perceive a mismatch between the verbal and nonverbal message, we tend to trust the nonverbal part of the message to be more credible and trustworthy. Don’t present learners with a mismatched message and let them guess what you really feel or mean. Be congruent and ensure that your words and your actions align.

High Energy and an Up Beat Disposition

Your energy level needs to be a couple of levels above the participants. If you sit or feel lethargic, you can be sure that it will have a contagion effect on the learners. Ensure that you exude lots of energy to help learners feel energised. Stay standing, keep moving, and be high energy.

Be Trustworthy

Learners will need to show vulnerability and even share personal or uncomfortable stories or examples in order to truly grow and learn. The more you convey that you can be trusted to keep confidences and honour their trust in you, the less learners will feel at risk and the better able they will be to take chances and go outside their comfort zone, where real learning takes place.

Be Open To Feedback

Actively solicit feedback from learners and not just on the “Smiley sheet” at the end of the session. Ask after lunch or at the end of the first day or the morning of the second day: “What should I be doing? What else can I do to make this a successful and comfortable learning environment for you?” Listen openly and attentively to their feedback and, as much as possible, demonstrate that you are taking it to heart by implementing changes in the course that make sense.

Understand and implement all of these things, and you will find yourself enjoying the process far more. Not only that, but forming genuine connections with the right audience.

Bonnie Young

- Director, BGA

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