3 steps to maximum engagement and participation

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Keeping engagement high and boredom low are things we all strive for as facilitators. The engagement of participants, after all, determines the success and outcomes of workshops and meetings, and who doesn’t want those outcomes to be positive? 

You may have created an atmosphere and set up an environment for great collaboration, cooperation, and cohesion but without the right activities to motivate participants, that carefully planned space and ambience will be wasted.

The art of unhurried conversations means a more relaxed attitude, but a workshop or meeting can’t forgo structure altogether. Meetings should include a range of activities to move the team in the direction of learning and growth. Discover just some of the approaches that should be a part of your strategy to achieve maximum engagement and participation.

1. Make movement matter

There’s nothing worse than a stiff, unengaging conversation. Sitting in a chair, tucked behind a table, and listening to a presenter can quickly become tiresome, so why sit?

Action-based approaches are the key to inspiring lively conversations that get people thinking and get companies moving in the right direction. By adding motion, participants can engage their entire bodies. Wellness consultant Laura Putnam explains how keeping participants moving is the key to keeping people engaged:

“Movement brings more blood to the brain, which means more oxygen for our brain cells. More motion helps to increase the connections, or synapses, between brain cells. Perhaps most exciting, physical activity actually generates new brain cells. The upshot: When we move, we’re better problem-solvers.”

All movement counts, so make sure the room can accommodate motion at its most vigorous.

2. Keep it interactive

A one-sided workshop or meeting will garner one-sided, equally stagnant results. An interactive format that lets the participants take control is therefore recommended. You are there to facilitate, not lead, the conversation.

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Participants that are involved and contribute more will be fully engaged. You’ll then have the time and space to collect your thoughts and plan the next step for continuing this group dynamic.

You can boost interactivity and encourage participation in several ways. We’ve already discussed the use of movement to increase engagement. Incorporating play, art and music also garner excellent results.

3. Be responsive

Not every engagement and participation method can be prepared for. Taking a responsive approach to keeping participants working positively will ensure you create and keep a real buzz, whilst relieving any productivity and creativity sapping feelings like tension, boredom, frustration, and anxiety.

Be confident in your abilities to facilitate. Your instincts will tell you a lot about the next step to take in your strategy. If energy drops, change things up with a new activity or a short break to re-energise. 

When facilitating a workshop there’s a big difference between preparation and over-planning. By preparing just enough, you can guarantee a structure that works and brings you comfort and confidence. You’ll also have the freedom to be as responsive as possible when catering to the ongoing needs of participants.