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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Presentation Facilitation: Jazz or Straight - How do we Facilitate?

Name of Leader:

Robert Chaffe

Names of Participants:

Vanessa Hood, Maxine Schache, Ross Cutler, Stephanie Andreata, Janine Waldock, Mark Collins, Tina Bell, Collin Holt, Mike Bramley, Hamish Pitt, Larissa Bilston, Peter Wegener, David Kennedy, Gordon Brown, Kim Jones and Trish Cameron.

Main points of discussion

  • JAZZ – “a type of popular music marked by frequent improvisation and unusually accented rhythms”. Macquarie Little Dictionary.
  • We are taught to follow the instructions.
  • The audience gets sick of the same old tune.
  • To be effective we need to read the audience and change.
  • Jazz is not for everyone beware of those who work best in other environments.
  • Be aware of differences in culture and know how far you can go before you start.
  • Start at a common point so that all the participants are part of the event.
  • Spend time with the participants to context the event and the activities.
  • We need to be prepared to take risks while developing a sense of timing and when to add things.
  • We know there are different learning styles but too often we don’t include this knowledge in our event plans and delivery. Practice what we preach!
  • We need to learn the basic skills first then build on them. The skills need to cover both the individual and group.
  • We need to learn how to establish an event contact – common goals, dealing with conflict, how we reach agreement, discipline and how we behave. It is not one or the other it is all.
  • The kit bag of “tricks” needs to be expansive and well maintained.
  • What are we doing to pass on our own skills so that other may learn and develop?
  • We need to know the philosophy behind facilitation but we also need to learn how we can “Live It”.
  • Not all groups are the same – do we recognise this in the way we work?
  • In the 70’s the extension agent/facilitator was encouraged to move in and out of a group and not be noticed. One outcome is that the value of the work done by the facilitator is also invisible even to the stakeholders who fund the work.
  • Experience tells us that many individuals and groups need an outside influence from time to time to challenge the norms. Effective facilitation makes this happen in a number of different ways to tap the differences within people.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • Extension agents/facilitators need to be exposed to the work of others, so that they can both experience the event and have a chance to lean/practice new skills.
  • Agents need to exchange into other areas where they can receive and provide feedback.
  • We all need to practice new ways and polish old ones – You never know until you have a go, stretch yourself and the participants.
  • While being flexible be sure you have the participants with you by including some familiar work. Be prepared to change.
  • Learn how to read the group by watching and listening, try a few things to scope the range where you can effectively work and use the feedback to support your actions.
  • Use silence; leave some space and time without “noise”.
  • Invite others to come to us. Start the exchange by recognising others.
  • We have a licence to be the best lets use it.
  • There is a group called “Brisbane learning net” and the action learning association who could help us discover other ways. There is also an Access Data base that helps create learning logs and reports – see action plans Friday Oct 5) for details.
  • Reflection is a critical part of the learning cycle we need to use this regularly.
  • We can help others by effective use of our learning logs to leave information for those who work with us and follow us that should reduce the need to start from scratch. As part of our succession/life plane we need to build relationships with others to give life to our plans and to test our assumptions. Action learning sets are one of the more useful tools to help this process.
  • As we look to building relationships we should stretch in to other sectors eg. Health as working effectively with people is a part of many businesses.
  • We also need to influence the training providers to help establish a culture in “extension” that embraces the best ideas, attitudes and skills.

The challenge for us as we go about our work is do we have what it takes to leave the participants with the knowledge that they have been part of something special that adds meaning and value to their lives.

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