Becoming an Agile Coach – 5 Tips for Agile Workshops and Communication

Me, doodling…

Part of coaching often includes putting the coach in a ‘trainer position’ in that we hold workshops or scheduled learning opportunities for clients.

The essence of training is not that we necessarily teach, but rather communicate effectively. This includes more than just ‘telling’ people, but rather engaging, involving, and working with the students to learn.

On Organizational Communication:

  • Sender – puts a message into words through encoding
  • Receiver – decodes the messages and attempts to understand it.
  • Feedback – helps us determine whether communication is actually taking place

Three aspects in the communication process: Communication is …

  1. Mutual – communication always involves more than one person
  2. Present – communication is always going on existentially (the real here and now)
  3. Simultaneous – communication is always going on both tracks at the same time. It is not like tennis where one ball is bounced back and forth. It is more like tennis being played with two balls. There is more than one idea or opinion involved.

 5 Tips for Communicating your Agile Workshop Effectively

  1. The issue is not so much “what to teach, but to whom you teach” – Understand your audience. Each member is different. It’s a little easier when you’re at a client, but public courses are harder as the mix of individuals come from all over the place. How do we do this? – First, understand their experience by doing a survey (have them line up and tell you their experience with the topic). Use this to understand what level you’ll need to speak at, at which times, and to whom.
  2. The trainer-trainee’s relationship with each other is paramount in the beginning – Grow their respect for you by speaking (in my opinion) less about yourself and how awesome you are because you’re standing in front of them. Bring the class into the workshop world. Involve them from the get-go. Lectures = fail.
  3. Students will know (or sense) that their trainer knows his stuff or not. - People aren’t stupid. Know your material. Don’t read from slides. Have great moments of sharing an experience that relates to the materials. People won’t listen and (potentially) change… until they know you’ve been there before and experienced it yourself. 
  4. Trainer’s need to strive to avoid the applause syndrome (self-worth determined by workshop success) – Do your best. That’s all we can ask. There will always be room for improvement, but that will come in time. I say this because I, personally, have struggled with this in the past. I want PERFECTION from MYSELF!… but I don’t demand it of others… why do I demand it on myself?
  5. Workshops and training sessions are really developed by experience and enthusiasm – Seems obvious, but there have been several occasions recently where I’ve witnessed trainers who speak about something they don’t know intimately about… also, I’ve seen people train who don’t love it. If you don’t love the classroom/workshop. Get out. Seriously. Many who attend your workshops have been through college and terribly boring lectures. They don’t need more death-by-powerpoint.

I’m sure you can think of plenty more, but above are my top 5 for now! Hope that helps. We’ll talk more about workshops and communication in the next week!

4 Responses to “Becoming an Agile Coach – 5 Tips for Agile Workshops and Communication”

  1. Matt Block
    July 30, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Good points about communication. I’ve always favored the quote “communication is what the listener does” from Peter Drucker. It doesn’t matter how much we talk if the people in the training aren’t engaged and listening.

    • peter
      July 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Absolutely! Training is really engagement at the deepest level.

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