The most exciting part of a workshop I attended recently was when the table collapsed, sending books and pens flying into the air.
I am not sure why the table collapsed. But the heat, a stress fracture or just boredom could have caused it.
I certainly could relate to all three.
The presenter was friendly and knowledgeable, but lacked awareness of the effect she was having on her audience.
The introductions took over an hour!
By the time it was my turn to introduce myself and explain why I was there, I was ready to collapse – but the table beat me to it.
What should she have done?
Well, in my work as a facilitator and presenter I have learned that she could have;
Observed her audience closely and looked for cues that indicated boredom, tiredness or lack of energy. For example, the obvious signs are yawning, looking at watches, slumped postures or bored expressions. However she was oblivious to the effect she was having on the audience.
Adjusted the presentation if she had sensed she was losing the audience. She could have used various methods to energise minds and bodies such as pairing people up with someone whom they haven’t met and discuss a particular theme. She certainly didn’t do this.
Evaluated the presentation by getting feedback from the audience. Handing out feedback sheets or asking participants as a group or individually what they thought of the presentation may have been helpful. None of these things happened.
There are many ‘collapsing tables’ caused by experts who are so caught up in their message that they lose sight of the audience.
They really do need to observe, adjust and evaluate what they do.
If they did then their presentations would be much better.
And save a lot of tables!
First published in Starlink – Dec 2006