Tip #815: A Nightmare or Challenging Opportunity?

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” Sam Levenson

So, you create a highly participatory two-hour learning experience for an estimated 30 participants. The activities include pop ups, small group activities and role playing. Then you find out that 122 people have signed up!!! You’re going to have to watch the clock very carefully now!

The participant workbook, with all of those activities, has already been posted on the organization’s website, so you can’t change anything. What do you do???

First, you throw out the planned 10-minute break, because there is no way that 122 people are going to leave, use the limited facilities, and come back in that time period. You also know that you’ll need more time to debrief activities, so every minute counts.

Next, hoping that the participants will be seated at tables (you still haven’t heard back from the organizer yet and the workshop is tomorrow morning!) you plan how to apportion out the small group activities. There are worksheets with 8 items on the page and you want each table to work on only two items. Maybe you can divide the room into fourths and assign two different items to each quadrant. Then, you can debrief each activity by asking for volunteers from each quadrant. Yes, that might work.

Now, what do you do about the triad role play activity you’ve scheduled? Given the time constraints, you rethink the triad approach and decide that the role play should occur between two people at each table. The remaining table members can observe. The debrief will need to be concise, drawing again from volunteers. Perhaps check to see if the role play structure was successful and what their key learning was from the exercise.

What hasn’t been mentioned yet is that this is a first time co-facilitated workshop. You have no control over the other person’s time management. You hope and pray that you are both on the same page. The sticking point will be the lecturette your partner will be giving. Can he keep it to no more than 15 minutes?

And what about the person who is going to “introduce” us. Can we prompt her to be as brief as possible?

If you can feel the waves of stress rolling off me onto the page, you have some idea of my worry about this workshop. I’m telling myself that my reputation as a trainer is on the line. Gawk!

Wish us luck! I’ll let you know how it went in the next Tip.

May your learning be sweet.


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