Conference Blog – Importance of Instructions..
This weekend I was privileged to present the opening keynote speech “What Types Learn to Do, they Learn by Doing” at the International Association for Psychological Type in Miami. The conference was attended by approximately 240 MBTI® Type Practitioners and the focus of the conference was Type in Action. Of course, with this focus, I was determined make the Types in the room Take Action and in one hour and 20 minutes the group completed four team activities. In this session and during the remainder of the conference I realized the importance of planning out activities and providing crystal clear instructions in a step-by-step way…
I know this seems obvious – and, common sense is not always common practice. One of the key mistakes I see Presenters and new Facilitators make is in not allocating time and attention to the logistics of exercise set-up. As you know the best activity in the world can be ruined if not set up correctly. Instead of remembering the activity, the audience will remember the chaos!
Here are my Top Ten Tips for Insightful Instructions
- Look at the room set up: make sure you know the room size, table layout, light, pillars and other incidental details. They can make or break the exercise. In this session I needed four aisles so that I could move the entire group into four quadrants. When in the quadrants I needed 30 round tables in order to complete the rest of the agenda.
- Think through the activity: it can be important to think through what you want the beginning, the middle and then end of the activity to look and feel like. In the keynote, when I did this, I realized we would have to move the group for the entire session, not move them out and back. This changed the content of the instructions.
- Prepare division of the teams: I like to think ahead about how to divide the group into smaller teams and this can be done in a traditional (in table groups, count off teams) and more creative ways (for instance, give names of sports teams and everyone in the same sports team go together).
- Know your audience: For the first activity, I changed the way of dividing the group to meet the needs of the audience: “a normal” Type Table would not work because of the type preferences in the room so I changed to Interaction Style groups instead.
- Map out the Instructions on cards: I encourage writing instructions on cards – this forces thinking through the process in a step-by-step manner.
- Give ONE instruction at a time: most of the population are really poor listeners (sad but true!) – providing multiple instructions in one sentence can create instant chaos…
- Slow down and add pauses when giving instructions: as individuals need time to process and understand instructions, I normally try to adapt the Chart-the-Course energy when explaining what to do– measured, calm, focused and being clear about the desired outcome.
- Obtain an example of an “ideal answer”: I picked up this “Prime the Pump” tip years ago, and asking the audience to give a sample response can help to ensure that the group understands the instructions.
- Maximize Support Materials: Think though when in the instructions you will hand out any support materials. In one of the activities we used Rollerscape – I waited to hand this out until the instructions were finished so that the group was not distracted by new toys! Hold up any support materials so that the audience knows what it is going to be receiving.
- Have instructions in multiple places: on the PowerPoint slide, on the handout as well as providing the instructions verbally. This not only helps the audience but helps you to ensure that you follow the process.
Ironically, there are more tips, many of which I have learned through the school of hard knocks when exercises have not worked as well as they could.
Let me know your top tip for insightful instructions! Many Thanks, Susan Nash