If you’ve been reading some of the other articles in this blog, it will come as no surprise to you when I say that interaction is essential to the learning process – whether you’re doing a 10-minute talk at a networking meeting, a 1-hour breakout session at a conference, a full-day workshop, or a multi-day retreat session.
Here are 8 reasons for you to add interaction to your sessions.
1. First of all, interaction moves participants from passive to active. If attendees are passive, they only need to sit back and absorb. However, they can easily become bored or distracted by their thoughts or smartphones – especially if overwhelmed by the amount of information you are sharing. You can pull your attendees back from distractions by having them participate in small or large group discussions or activities.
2. Interaction draws on the knowledge, skills, and experience of your participants. If you ignore the backgrounds your participants bring with them, you are losing out on knowledge, skills, and experience that can help the learning process.
3. As your attendees interact with each other in a variety of ways, they naturally hone their thinking and analyzing skills. These are skills they need in the real world when applying your information to solve the problems that brought them to you in the first place.
4. Interaction expands perspective. Participants learn from others’ points of view. Peers often influence each other more than you might as they discuss their interpretations of your information and suggestions for application.
5. Interaction adds variety.
6. Interaction motivates your attendees by allowing them to contribute. They feel good when given an opportunity to add value to the session.
7. Discussions, activities, and Q&A periods help you determine whether attendees have “got it” or whether they need further clarification.
8. Lastly, people are social beings and enjoy companionship. If well-designed and orchestrated, interaction during a presentation or workshop can be fun — creating a lasting positive impression of you and your sessions.
So, think back to sessions you’ve attended that weren’t interactive and then some that were. Which ones did you enjoy more? Which ones resulted in more of a long-lasting learning experience? Why?
Your participants are just like you. So, go ahead and add interaction. They’ll thank you for it.
What other reasons can you think of to add interaction to your sessions? Add them in the comment section below.
Need ideas for getting interaction?
Check out all the proven ways to add sizzle to your sessions. Check out The Lab at Engaging Talks and Workshops.
As a trainer, I also pick up valuable insights from my attendees or a point of view that I hadn’t thought of myself …….. so it’s not just about me giving.
Great post. I love the points about adding variety, and letting attendees add value.
Recently I wrote about attendees’ need for what I call “variety, sparsity and democracy”. (By “sparsity”, I mean not overwhelming people, and by “democracy” I mean letting people have their say.) So I strongly agree with the points you make.
One thing I’d also say is that’s important to add interaction to strong content, rather than letting interaction dominate a weak message. I say that because recently I’ve attended 2 sessions that had lots of interaction but where I later wondered what I’d learnt!
One of those sessions was online and the other in-person. In particular, the online session was crammed with use of the chat panel, but I began to realise the speaker had no strong insight to share with us on the subject.
So interaction makes great content even better, but it’s worth remembering that it can’t make up for weak content.