The power of modelling behaviours


June 22nd, 2009

I’ve always understood the importance of modelling behaviours, although I’m not entirely sure where or how I learnt this. I do remember when I changed jobs, oh, 20 something years ago, and finding myself working with two amazingly talented people, Terry and Sarah (hi, guys, if you’re out there!). Terry was, and still is, a performer. Put him in front of a group and he would have them entranced within minutes, telling stories and captivating their imaginations in a way I’d never seen before. Sarah was a brilliant teacher – and also a performer. She gave the best talks I’d ever seen. I’m not sure how either of them learnt their skills, but I’m pretty sure I learnt a lot from them, simply by observing.

Fast-forward to now and I find myself in front of groups, yes, performing. I find it daunting and exhilarating in equal measure, and more often than not I enter a ‘zone’ where nothing else exists but what I am doing there and then. It’s a wonderful privilege and a great responsibility, so I try to model what I am teaching. Because let’s face it, more often than not, I am in a teaching mode – transferring knowledge and skills about facilitating.

So it is with great pleasure that I received these two pieces of feedback over the weekend regarding a slideshow that I had used as part of a facilitation event.

From a learning event in China: “Use of big pictures and key words (instead of sentences) was able to capture participants’ attention and focus more effectively.” And from another event in Zimbabwe: “It went really well…no bullets in my PPT!”

The feedback is indirect, but I think you’ll agree it reinforces the power of modelling how things can be. These people received no training from me about HOW to create better slideshows, all they saw was what I’d produced. If you want to see what they saw, here it is.

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