Becoming an Agile Coach – Tips for Engaging Agile Workshops

Think of the worst talk/workshop you’ve ever been to…

Right. I’m sure you’re face is all twisted with disgust. Yep. You hated it. And I hate that you hated it. Workshops and training opportunities don’t have to suck. Let’s dive into a couple of tips on the best way to avoid empty classrooms and avoid the sin of boredom…

Understand the Workshop Environment

  1. Learn to listen to those you speak to rather than planning to talk at them
  2. Understanding the world in which they live is crucial, real, and problematic (within their context)
  3. Realizing there is a real sense of urgency to understanding the core message, and not fluff. People want to be able to apply what they hear.
  4. Understand the longings of people – For meaning and hope.

Understand the Paradigm Shifts Trainers face:

  • New Consumerism – people market training in today’s culture. People (sometimes) are no longer dedicated to the Agile community, but simply seek out that which they “enjoy” and consider personally and familially meaningful/beneficial to their career.
  • Large Workshops Decline – Workshop consumers are not as dedicated to the large masses of followers of movements.  Rather, we tend to find and focus our energies in smaller groups. Large workshops with tons of people still has a market, but increasingly this market is declining (in my opinion).
  • The Language Barrier – People respond much better to conversational language than stilted clichés of the big workshop holders. Focus your energy on the conversation of learning – Engaging people into smaller groups for exercises.

To Make an Impact in a Workshop, one Must:

  1. speak in language the people understand – tell them with your voice
  2. strive to show honesty – through pragmatic experiences of where things worked… and where things didn’t work!
  3. be open to the idea of “change” or other opinions from your participants – you’re not “right 100%” of the time. Be open for new ideas you get from your participants
  4. learn to accept and cope with cultural diversity – i’ve seen workshops implode from non-tactful ways of dealing with cultural differences and even ethnic slights (very subtle criticisms).
  5. be engaging – Seriously. Try this: 30% of workshop you talk. 70% of the time they talk (in exercises and scenarios). Can you do this?

Next, we’ll talk a bit on communication styles… :)

4 Responses to “Becoming an Agile Coach – Tips for Engaging Agile Workshops”

  1. Karol McCloskey
    August 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Good stuff, Classmaker! Engaging an audience is job 1 for presenters. Transparency – now that’s an interesting concept and spot on. Just like sharks in the water your audience knows the minute you tell stories rather than speak from knowledge. Doing so is a recipe for non-engagement and wasting their time.

    Looking forward to your next post, ol’ buddy.

    Cheers, Karol

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