Masterful Communication: SMART Facilitators

I speak for a living. I feed my family by feeding information and experiences to others. The professional organization for speakers is called the National Speakers Association. I am actively involved in our state chapter. We have a small, but meaningful chapter that serves the needs of professional speakers and the interests of those who would like to learn how to be a professional speaker. Because I have recently announced this blog to many of our chapter members, potential members, as well as a large number of student organization leaders who speak and train others, I thought it timely to spend a little time on the PLI Essential of Masterful Communication.

I spoke in Utah last month and had the privilege of working with a group of young people who were charged with helping me facilitate in a team environment. This was the list of tips and reminders that would help them have a great facilitation experience and help the students have a great learning experience...

SMART Facilitators

Smile - This speaks to the fact that our interaction with the students is one of "how can I serve you?" We view our students as customers we aim to please, not people we need to control. Now, of course, don't sacrifice authority and orderliness for this, but this is our base camp to work from. This also speaks to the truth that students enjoy the process more when their leaders are enjoying the process. So, have fun and be in the moment.

Movement - People need to be engaged through movement; physically, mentally and emotionally. We will be engaging them in all three ways. You can help tremendously by simply understanding the concept of the crest of the wave. In surfing, the crest of the wave is the point where the ride is the fastest and the tallest. However, after that point the energy starts going down. So, keep your eye on this during activities and discussions and "report that information up-chain" if you can.

Attention - Much of group facilitation is attention management. You can encourage attention with your group by being on high-receive yourself, handling disruptions appropriately and in a courteous manner, encourage discussion through asking questions, prompting the students to build off of each other's comments and encouraging the students to take notes.

Rememorable - We want to help the students have a "rememorable time - something they will want to remember and memories they will want to and need to revisit often. We can fuel this memory creation by encouraging the students to risk boldly, engage full-on in the activities, stay in the meeting room as much as possible and mingle with other students from other chapters. Their memories will be tied more to the people they meet than to the things we say. Encourage them to take pictures, as well.

Time - A successful conference experience has many moving parts. The biggest moving part is time. Here are a few time formulas we will adhere to...

3-Second Rule - People develop a first impression of you in the first 3-seconds; many times this is before you even meet them. So, mind your smile and your appearance.

30-Second Rule - Listeners either check-in or check-out in the first 30-Seconds. So, mind your first words and get them engaged quickly.

5-Minute Rule - Listeners look for meaning and purpose and they need to be able to either find personal meaning in what they are hearing and/or are told something that they can use (purpose) every 5-minutes or so. So, give your students tangible, real ways they can take action on what they are learning or experiencing.

7-Minute Rule - Listeners need a change in how they receive information every 7-minutes. This could be listening to the speaker, reflective thought, table discussion, partner discussion, writing in their booklet, seeing something happen, feeling an emotion (positive or negative) or engaged in an activity that combines many of these.

90-Minute Rule - When meeting in big groups, listeners need to unplug from the meeting every 90-minutes. Hopefully the schedule is already set-up to accommodate this, but if it isn’t, remember this very important dynamic!

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