I can talk...a lot. If you get me started on a topic I am passionate about, I will not be at a loss for words. The challenge for me as a facilitator is to work hard at holding back and not stealing the thunder from my learners. In addition, I am highly animated which can be perceived as overpowering, especially if the group is small and intimate.
There are many non-verbal actions, or instructional techniques, we can use, along with our verbal communication, to help improve group dynamics. Here are a few I have been using with great success:
- If you sit on a stool, lean forward while speaking, and sit all the way back when listening or observing.
- When introducing yourself, sit down to bring less attention to you. Keep your introduction light, simple, and positive.
- Ask former participants to explain “housekeeping items” to those who are new. Let them discuss how to handle cell phones, side conversations, breaks, being back on time, etc. This is very empowering and it also shows new learners the level of confidence you want everyone to display in the classroom.
- When leading a discussion, place your notes in front of you to command attention. When facilitating the discussion, place your notes down to the side of your body and bring them back in front of you when you want to regain the attention of the group.
- When someone answers a question correctly or provides a great example or story, smile, remain silent for a moment, and then invite others to offer their thoughts, remarks, and feedback before offering yours. Your silence often invites even the most passive learners to provide input.
- After mentioning any key information, once again use silence to add emphasis and give time for learners to formulate any questions or comments related to the information.
55% of the communication process is non-verbal (eye contact, gestures, attending behaviors, posture, and movement). We can use it wisely to motivate our learners to participate more, offer their opinions, and generate higher levels of classroom interaction.
How do you use non-verbal communication to generate participation and involvement in your training? Please share your unique and favorite instructional techniques and strategies. I look forward to your ideas!