INVOLVEMENT - ENGAGE YOUR PARTICIPANTS FOR BETTER RESULTS!

What?

Involvement, simply stated, is bringing participants into your presentation or meeting in ways that allow them to directly or indirectly add value. Involvement leads to engagement wherein your participants begin actively working towards the objectives for the session.

Why?

Involvement and engagement usually drive "buy-in" which in turn generates better actual outcomes - messages that are understood and acted upon, agreements that are actually implemented, and so on.

With few exceptions, the best solutions have input from a wide variety of people who are informed and engaged in the task.

Human nature drives people to support solutions they help create.

Involvement breeds involvement. You can significantly build involvement by participating yourself and encourage others to do the same.

On the downside, failure to involve key people brings substantial risks.

Messages can be ignored, and decisions and plans can be derailed if the people who must implement them are not engaged early enough.

How?

Build Involvement before the session by providing clear material on what you are going to be talking about and why it's important that people attend. Pre-read materials can help people prepare for complicated or difficult subjects.

Consider brief pre-meeting contacts with select people to identify (and

sell) the specifics of how they can help with the task at hand and get agreement to participate enthusiastically.

"Walk the Talk" with personal preparation € know the facts, know the issues, think ahead about outcomes.

Build involvement during the meeting using a variety of facilitator's proven techniques:

1) Begin by sending the "OK to talk" message early in interactive meetings.

2) Use lots of open-ended questions to generally encourage responses and directed questions to draw out the "Silent Sam & Sara" types.

3) Manage potential, dominant voices with body language and selective eye contact. Even in large room situations, you can engage blocks of people (e.g. tables) in the same way that you would work with individuals in smaller venues, and you'll be pleased with the results.

4) Continue to build involvement AFTER the meeting. Follow-up with key contributors to thank them for their involvement and ask for their support. Meet with those not yet bought in, to bring them around. Make sure to send Thank You notes and recaps of agreements and action plans to all.

Benefits:

Participants are engaged and feel that they have added value.

Solutions are better because of diverse inputs and discussion.

Training "sticks" better after the session.

Buy-in increases dramatically and actual results follow.

Active involvement gives you more "breathing space" to listen and refocus.

Action Plan:

Before your next presentations, think about who will be, or should be, attending and what specific contributions these people could make if fully engaged. Contact them ahead of time and sell them on active involvement.

Publish a clear agenda, including desired outcomes and a WIIFM (What's In It For Me) to encourage their attendance, preparation and involvement.

Develop your facilitation techniques (we have a book available on this subject if you don't own a good one), and rehearse your session so that you can focus on "working the group" instead of simply getting through the agenda.

During your opening remarks, directly ask for the group's support, and make it clear that you want involvement and feedback during the session.

At the close, and in your follow-up notes, go out of your way to say THANK YOU! for people's contributions. Even the "devil's advocates" who didn't necessarily support your position have probably added to the value of the session by providing opportunities to answer objections.

Follow up in person with key players and those not fully onboard at the end of the session.

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