“Don’t teach. Facilitate,” I explained to skeptical instructors in a train the trainer program 15 years ago. The points of our program were:
- Look at your audience. They are unique. Know who they are and reach them there.
- Ask your audience questions. Assume nothing – start with basics. If they can answer the basics, they will gain confidence to master the tougher stuff.
- Answer your audience’s questions. Keep control of the conversation, but make a list of questions to get back to, if needed afterwards.
- Engage your audience. Find novel ways for them to participate. The more they participate, the more likely they are to incorporate it into their lives. See what works and what doesn’t, tweak it, and try again.
Look + Ask + Answer + Engage = Listen.
At first, I didn’t believe facilitation worked. I lacked the time to “Facilitate” when I was supposed to “Teach.” Teaching meant going through my list of exactly what was to be learned, opening the heads of my students, and dumping it there.
A brain dump ends up with a toxic brainfill with so much stuff nothing is absorbed, and the good stuff runs off first time it rains. If an adult was subjected to a bad teacher who pushed, pushed, pushed, odds are students tuned out the teacher. So when instructors of adults push too hard, adult students respond by tuning them out.
Tune out = nothing accomplished. Listen so they tune in = students find new ways to apply what they learn and keep using it.
Facilitation can work. In order to work, the “facilitator” has to pan for gold – sift the rocks in the lecture and keep the best nuggets. Listen to the audience but make sure the nuggets and important information is covered.
In the social media age, I see the same transition happening in marketing and advertising. Generations of salespeople were taught to PUSH their message, PUSH their product, and PUSH to get sales.
Problem is PUSH is now as attractive and current as that avocado green toilet was when we bought our house.
After a lifetime of PUSH, consumers now tune out the moment the PUSH pitch begins.
Marketers wishing to survive in the 21st century had better learn to PULL, to listen, and to facilitate to survive. Follow those same steps we gave teachers:
Look, Ask, Answer, and Engage.