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Archive for the ‘Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network’ Category

Anatomy of a Successful Workshop

In Active Learning, Aha!, facilitation skills, How To, Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network, Uncategorized on February 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm

When you think of the word anatomy what images, thoughts, or symbols come to mind?

Okay, now pull out a piece of paper or a sketch pad and ponder on this question. Brainstorm a bit. Work fast. And then when you think you’ve exhausted all possible ideas, pause for a moment and think of a few more connections to this word. To help get you started, please, consider these images.

... a visual kick start for your brainstorm

… a visual kick start for your brainstorm

Now imagine yourself swimming in symbolism — much like that frog before he/she met his/hers educationally-inspired demise.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a professional development workshop sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network (a.k.a., MAFN). This workshop was one of the very best I had ever attended since becoming a facilitator. But rather than just make this claim and assume that you’ll accept my opinion as fact, let me tell you why.

Imagine you’re in a lab-class: Anatomy & Physiology 301. Let’s examine the structure and internal workings of what makes for an outstanding workshop.

... cleverly designed handouts should facilitate your note taking and engage you without distracting you

… cleverly designed handouts should facilitate your note taking and engage you without distracting you from the speaker

Set the stage or prepare the operating room for use.

There’s usually time to settle into your learning space, greet a few of your colleagues, and perhaps introduce yourself to the workshop instructor/trainer. I highly recommend that you arrive a few minutes early to do just that. Gather up any handouts which are made available and review them so that you’ve a good grasp of what’s to be covered and in what order topics may be addressed.

When preparing a handout should you be the presenter, avoid designing a handout that’s jammed packed with text. Use “bullet lists” and leave enough white space for note taking and doodling. Bibliographies should list online references and are particularly helpful for those who want to “dive deep” and learn more.

Create a learning laboratory for hands-on, experiential engagement.

... learning occurs in a sequential and progressive fashion -- in steps: 1, 2, 3.

… learning occurs in a sequential and progressive fashion — in steps: 1, 2, 3.

It is not my intent to re-create the content or attempt to re-teach this workshop. Kudos to Rebecca Slocum who was the featured presenter at MAFN. The credit for the design and facilitative instruction at this event belongs to her. That said, look again at the photos above. Contemplate how our group learning evolved, step by step.

  • The workshop leader/instructor tells a story about being stuck in Iceland … This story doubles as a self-introduction and opens the door to being genuine and personable.
  • The instructor uses several decks of Visual Explorer Playing Cards … Having us draw one card face up (representing our approach to facilitation) and a 2nd card face down (the mystery card) … We are up on our feet and engaged early in the program.
  • We share our first card with our neighbors / table mates … This serves as a purposeful icebreaker with those who are in the room and learning with us.
  • The instructor shares more of her agenda/syllabus with us … Covering the THEORY that behind the PRACTICE of our experiential learning.
  • The 2nd card is flipped and now we are challenged to create meaning from this unknown image … We learn that symbolism works in several ways … In the example above, that flea or “bug” is something that trips me up while I’m a facilitator. It’s the “nit that must be picked” that detracts me or someone else in the group.
  • The instructor leads more discussion on WHY USE SYMBOLS, WHEN TO USE THEM, and HOW TO USE THEM … More group discussion follows.
  • We are asked to draw a 3rd card (face up) … This image is to explain how our practice as  facilitators or our professional behavior might evolve and change in the future … I aspire to take a bird’s eye view of future situations yet understand that I’m at the mercy of the winds.
  • A two-part case study follows … We are encouraged to take notes using a worksheet entitled: A Symbolic Framework … Our learning has been re-enforced.

Okay … I’m assuming that you’ve got the idea. Understanding the anatomy of a successful workshop helps guide us in the following ways:

  • Be welcoming and friendly … Tell a story that triggers everyone’s curiosity.
  • Engage your audience as soon as you can, early in the workshop, and before you dive into the “boring, academic” stuff.
  • Lay out the steps — 1, 2, 3 — and explain each step as you go so that folks don’t get lost while “dissecting their frog.”
  • Allow time for the participants to share their stories, feelings, and experiences.
  • Test or challenge the learners with some sort of direct application of what they’ve just learned. Think: case studies, completing a worksheet, …, creating an action plan, etc.

I hope this helps. Good luck!


PS: Think of a way to extend the learning or build a sense of community with your colleagues and potential clients. For example after the MAFN workshop described above, our members and guests gathered at a nearby restaurant for networking and a social. There were free appetizers and a cash bar. But there was also a structured activity called the NAME TAG ICEBREAKER which I’ve attempted to explain below in a doodle/sketch-note.

... a name tag can be used creatively to enable purposeful networking

… a name tag can be used creatively to enable purposeful networking

It’s Like Riding a Bike: Highlights from the MAFN DC Workshop, May 29

In Active Learning, Coaching, Confidence Course Facilitator, Facilitating Genius, facilitation skills, High Ropes Course, leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network, teamwork on June 2, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Here are select images from last week’s MAFN DC Workshop. Most of these images are from my slide deck. A few were taken with my iPhone camera, e.g., participants passing the hula hoop and the props carried in a MAFN backpack. For those who attended this event, please consider taking your clients outside and perhaps to a challenge course such as “The EDGE.” For those who missed out on this workshop, drop me a line and I’ll fill you in on what you missed. JL

 

 

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All the props fit into a small backpack.

All the props fit into a small backpack.

Was Warhol wrong? I hope so.

In Communication, facilitation skills, leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network on March 24, 2014 at 5:56 pm

“In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.”

— Andy Warhol, American Pop Artist (1928-1987)

 

Hmmm ... By Warhol's prediction and my rough calculation, I've another 8-1/2 minutes of fame remaining on RCTV-28.

Hmmm … By Warhol’s prediction and my rough calculation, I’ve another 8-1/2 minutes of fame remaining on RCTV-28.

What a thrill to be interviewed on “The Arnette Report” carried by Reston Community Television RCTV-28! (Which also airs in Northern Virginia on Verizon Channel 1981.) Thank you, Fran Ponick, Jeff Arnette, Steven Gaffney, and Jim Wright for sharing the stage / air time.

And for all my fans, followers, friends, and connections in social media … My “Take 5 Interview” is found between time-hacks  01:46-08:20 at http://vimeo.com/88786524.

And should you actually see me on TV, I hope it’s not due to insomnia.

“Be not afraid.”

Here’s a link to a shorter video … https://vimeo.com/89950658

 

An Uncertain Future

In Facilitating Business, Facilitating Genius, facilitation skills, How To, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network, Open Space Technology, Tips re: Professional Development, World Cafe on January 25, 2014 at 10:46 pm
You don't need a crystal ball to facilitate a meeting about the future.

You don’t need a crystal ball to facilitate a meeting about the future.

Register for the MAFN DC workshop set for 1-31-2014 to learn more about how to facilitate decision-making meetings for an uncertain future.

For a sneak preview, you can visit SlideShare.

http://www.slideshare.net/John_Lesko/slides-mafn-1-312014

 

 

It’s time (again) to take flight

In leadership, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network, teamwork, Toastmasters on July 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm
In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.

In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.

Many organizations (typically non-profits and/or community groups) end their business or fiscal year on June 30th. These same organizations then start anew effective July 1st.

During this past month I received a number of certificates and/or awards for time spent in service to one organization or another. A friend of mine raised and lowered 30 flags over the Pentagon on Memorial Day and then presented one to me. Another organization marked the end of my two-year stint as the chairman of the professional development committee with the Mid-Atlantic Facilitators’ Network (MAFN). And just this past Saturday, I was given a small award for having practiced my trade as a graphic facilitator while advising the leadership team of Toastmasters International, District 27.

Thank you, Pam Boteler, for thinking of me while you honored the men & women who've served our nation. This flag will fly again on July 4, 2013.

Thank you, Pam Boteler, for thinking of me while you honored the men & women who’ve served our nation. This flag will fly again on July 4, 2013.

Memorial Day is a day to remember that in the defense of our nation, many gave something while a few gave all. I salute those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom and look forward to proudly flying this flag during future holidays. If you’re still reading this blog, please stand up. Somewhere someone is playing our National Anthem -or- more likely there’s a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who’s on watch.

Success within any professional development program depends upon identifying talented speakers and then inviting them to share what they know with others.

Success within any professional development program depends upon identifying talented speakers and then inviting them to share what they know with others.

Two thirds of our workshop presenters at MAFN are published authors. When looking for good speakers start first with those who you think are thought-leaders in your field. Whether you agree or disagree with what they’ve written, remember that at least they took a stand and thought long and hard enough about such topics to form an opinion on it.

The leadership team I helped earned President's Distinguished District honors in 2012-2013. Well done!

The leadership team I helped earned President’s Distinguished District honors in 2012-2013. Well done!

… Which brings this blog article full circle. One of my favorite movies of all time is the classic film “Flight of the Phoenix.” There’s been a re-make of this story. Seek out the original if you can. And then resolve to take flight by re-engineering your talents and creating something anew.

Yes, I prefer the movie that features James Stewart over the re-make with Dennis Quaid. Both are superb but I've a fondness for Jimmy Stewart who also served his country as a pilot and officer in the US Air Force.

Yes, I prefer the movie that features James Stewart over the re-make with Dennis Quaid. Both are superb but I’ve a fondness for Jimmy Stewart who also served his country as a pilot and officer in the US Air Force.