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Facilitating Ain't Lecturing

     As a facilitator and trainer, I realize that both lend themselves to less skilled people turning each role into a college classroom for bored teens just trying to get through to the next class.  Facilitating requires that the facilitator guide discussion, control the environment where the discussion takes place, and generally move the discourse along.  A good facilitator is almost invisible in the room.  They take charge and step in and out of the discussion at the right times.  They step in to ask questions that open the floor up to the participants' opinions and learning.  They make sure the entire meeting runs on time and no one bogs down the flow.  They step out when appropriate to direct the attention to the people who matter in the discourse.  They shut down the talkers, command respect for the speakers and themselves, and they bring their own personal style or touch (professionalism, humor).
     A trainer acts in much the same way and also contributes wisdom and learning.  The trainer takes the learner to a point of understanding and to new information.  The trainer turns old information into refreshed information that is useful and increased in value.  The trainer makes the environment conducive to receiving content in a relaxed setting where there are no distractions but an increased interest in what's happening in the room.  The trainer does not lecture but helps the learner to experience the lesson through sound, words, visuals, music, laughter, color, lights, and human contact.  A trainer delivers enlightenment.
     When any of these skills is absent between these two roles, the facilitator and trainer devolves into lecturing.  The trainer/facilitator is now professorial and bordering on boring.  They run the highest risk of losing the attention of their learners because now they are bombarding the human mind with information that piles up and has nowhere else to go.  It collects in the brain with little opportunity to process it and do something useful with it.  In order for the influx of information to be collected, stored and used, the listener has to have a chance to put what they've learned into practice.  Any time the person at the front of the room denies his or her participants this benefit, whatever they are teaching is lost in large part to boredom and information fatigue.  Lecturing is for people who lack creativity in teaching.  Engage your audience.  It's about them.


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