The Nervous Type:
They will relax eventually as long as you don’t put added pressure on them. A good strategy is to get them to complete an easy task early on, and use humour and lightness. Ensure they are not exposed early on
the Talk Hog/Dominator:
The overly talkative individuals who can dominate a group will have good things to say so encourage them – but the challenge is to harness this energy. Set boundaries early on. Flatter them and tell them you need their help and give them a responsible role in a break out session where they will be a facilitator to the group. To reign them in use a stop signal (flat hand facing them) and break eye contact, or you may need to be direct and say ‘thank you for your ideas, let’s hear from someone else now’. Ask direct questions to other groups or individuals. Change the seating
The Silent one:
This person may wish to remain silent or it may be a self-protection strategy. Avoid naming or forcing participation. Notice behaviour in a small group. This can be dealt with at the start with a ‘we are all different. Some like to talk more whereas others prefer to wait until they have something to say. You are all welcome and feel free to contribute in a way that works for you and others in the room’. You could frame a question, for example “John, I know you have particular experience in this field, and I was interested in what you were talking to me about in the break” before posing it to the particular individual. This is useful with reflectors who appreciate being given more time to think
The More senior person who wants to be there:
Brief the person beforehand, give them a role and explain the risks of them being present. Suggest only attending certain parts of the training
Ask for their experience. Position what they say as a point of view, not the truth. Speak to the person at the break
Utilise the heckles and improvise to create humour and a positive atmosphere (you can see page 200 of The Financial Times Guide to Business Training for ideas on how to improvise)
The Subject Matter Expert:
Welcome and find the best way to collaborate with them. Challenge them by asking them to cite the source. Use them for difficult questions.
This is a small selection of some of the characters we meet on a daily basis. Do you agree with these, do you have any to add from your experiences?