At a facilitation skills session that I offered at a conference last Friday, the group participated in nine interactive activities in 1 1/2 hours. The first activity was so simple, and something people very often don’t do.

As the group wandered into the workshop room, they saw my flipchart at the front which said something like:

“Please talk to your neighbours! Q: What was the most interesting thing you saw a facilitator/presenter do at the conference so far?”

A simple little question like this gives people “permission” to talk to each other once they enter the room, helps avoids those awkward moments of silence before a workshop starts, and helps ensure that people feel more comfortable to talk later in the workshop – when you really want them participating!

One of the participants said later in the checkout: “That idea was something so simple that I had never thought about before. And it extends the content of my workshop another ten minutes – brilliant!”

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