Last weekend, my son had a birthday party. He invited a bunch of friends from his pre-school. One child’s mother apologized for not being able to bring a gift. She had just replaced the engine on her car. The fact she brought her son was the perfect gift for us, after all he is one of our son’s best friends.
When she arrived, she insisted on emptying out her wallet and giving our son everything she had left. Two dollars.
What would have happened if I had told her “no, don’t do that”? Kind of a dick move, right?
I walk into too many presentations – whether in training sessions or simply in staff meetings – and I’ll see a bunch of smart people who are willing to contribute their thoughts or talents or expertise. And I see too many presenters who – intentionally or unintentionally – say: “No, don’t do that.”
Are you offering an opportunity for your audience to share their thoughts, their experiences, their talents, their gifts with everyone else? I’m not just talking about leaving five minutes at the end to ask if anyone has any questions or comments. I’m not talking about bribing participants with chocolate or prizes to contribute their thoughts. I’m talking about intentional design that invites participation and quality contributions.
A number of years ago, I was kicking off a training and we were establishing ground rules and one person offered the following ground rule: “The only thing that’s missing from this training is what I don’t bring.” His point being: if you have a thought or a question or an answer to someone else’s question and you don’t share it with the group, then we’re all missing out.
Without intentionally designing opportunities for participation and engagement from your audience, you may as well tell them: “No, don’t do that.”
Need some ideas on how to engage your audience? Try these posts:
- 3 Ways (and 1 Tool) to Engage Your Audience in Your Next Team Meeting
- 8 Ways to Involve Your Audience
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