For anyone who creates or oversees the creation of learning events:
Five steps towards dynamic programs:
- FORMAT: Identify a format that works best for your members. What’s important to them? Networking, learning new tools, peer coaching?
- NETWORKING: You can include informal networking time before your meeting, and you can create something more structured, for example: have people introduce themselves in their small groups. Give them a guiding question, such as: What brought you here today? What would you like to get out of this meeting? Bonus step: connect the guiding question to the topic of the meeting! I.e. “What’s a current challenge you’re working on relative to (topic x)?”
- STANDARDS: Define standards of excellence for your programs, for example: Members will have a chance to get to know 5 new people; Participants will report feeling engaged and able to contribute knowledge; There will be a buzz in the room from small group discussions; People will leave with 2-3 skills or tools that they can apply in their work or practice.
- ENSURE SUCCESS: Coach presenters in advance on the desired format and standards. Review their agenda to make sure it conforms with your standards. Tell presenters: I want to be sure that you’ll be successful with our audience!
- DURING THE MEETING: Don’t be afraid to intervene gently but firmly during the session if the energy is lagging. If necessary, engage someone with facilitation skills who can do this for you.
When we create learning events, we often focus on what the presenter can provide to participants – at the same time, participants want to feel that they are contributing value to the conversation; members bring their own knowledge to the table, so an ideal meeting will include both! When you coach the presenter, you might suggest that they build off the wisdom in the room.
If you have a topic or question about program design that you’d like to see featured here, let me know.