The power of 'front of room' work

Last week I experienced another extraordinary day workshop with Sally Anderson. Limited to 30 spaces, and held at the spectacular Heritage Boutique Waitakere Estate (brilliant service and venue), Sal was in fine form, delivering breakthrough results for the participants in very short timeframes, in fact almost all of the 30 people in the room received one on one attention.

Two weeks earlier, I delivered my Illuminate workshop, to 14 participants, which basically involved each of the participants having their time on the 'hot seat' at the front of the room. It was a great day, and the energy of the group dynamics at the end of the day was palpable.

Last week, at Thought Leader's Business School, fellow kiwi and extraordinary Thought Leader Owen McCall was at the front of the room for the appropriately called 'Cluster under the Microscope' where his very successful offering he has been focusing on the last quarter was 'unpacked' for the room to learn from the wins and challenges.

Why is 'front of room' work so effective? 

I struggled to find any cool research that focuses on this (so would love any of my pedagogical oriented friends to direct me to any) but here are my observations from three recent powerful but different experiences.

1. The collective support of someone at the front of the room is quite special. Being the center of attention is quite confronting for some, but rather than an alienating audience, front of room participants are amazed at the collective support for them. Sometimes contribution is welcomed from the room, in other instances it is not, but regardless, the constant feedback is that the reward of being supported outweighs the angst of being vulnerable and getting up there in the first place.

2. We are predictable as human beings, and can usually see something that applies to ourselves in the discussions. Instead of it being 'all about the person' at the front of the room, they are merely reflecting the various challenges and insights that many of the room are experiencing as well. It's surprising how our problems can often be summarized into only a handful of key challenges, regardless of the context.

3. Practical application is the best way to learn concepts. For example, when people first come to Business School, they can be quite confused about the breadth of the curriculum. By seeing how these concepts are actually applied in a real life situation, there is more cut through than trying to learn something in isolation.

4. Interactive learning trumps a boring download from the trainer every time. Let's face it, being talked at by one person for a day is pretty uninspiring. Not only is it more interesting when there is someone else involved (and maybe even the whole room), but energetically, something magical happens, and the feedback from workshops where this takes place is overwhelmingly positive regarding the camaraderie and connection experienced within the group.

If you hold workshops yourself, or are intending to, do consider this approach as a brilliant way to get your message across (this is definitely being practiced more and more). AND, if you are attending a workshop, where you have the opportunity to get into the hot seat, go ahead and jump right in. It will be worth the sweaty palms sensation, I promise!

I am shortly relaunching my webinars, but am limiting them to six people each, and incorporating the 'front of room' techniques into the webinar.

That means, if you attend, you will experience a far more interactive and targeted webinar. Please email me if you would like to be notified when I will be launching them. The primary focus of these webinars will be on Illuminate, ie supporting individuals to discover, live, own and commercialise their legacy.

And if you are interested in attending one of Sal's workshops, she is hosting another one on Friday 2nd October in Auckland, and Friday 23 October in Tauranga. Please note we do not publicly advertise these courses, and they will fill up quickly. If you would like to come as a guest on my table, you can purchase a ticket for $275 plus GST (email me if this interests you).

Posted on September 7, 2015 .