This is the first of several posts reflecting the excellent SEDA summer school I attended last week. One of the main learning points for me was around confident delivery, which will form the content of this post.
Although I always knew that confidence was an important component of successful delivery or facilitation, I previously had focused on my preparation and ensuring I had a clear plan for any session, with some contingencies. In terms of delivery I considered the importance of confident delivery but not really explored what that meant beyond presentation skills.
At the summer school there were a number of experienced staff developers who had clearly defined activities planned for each session and the confidence to deliver them. As a participant there were times at which activities felt a little strange and I wasn’t sure where we were headed, but the facilitators guided us through to a successful end point. They weren’t put off by any potential reluctance from participants, and took time to ensure we understood what was expected.
In some of my own sessions it’s when I recognise this feeling of ‘strangeness’ on participants’ faces that I can succumb and change my plans. I can then adapt or even scrap activities because the participants don’t seem to like them or find them hard. But what I should be doing is having confidence in what I’ve planned and delivering the activities I’ve chosen to best meet the aims or intended outcomes for a session. This point or topic around which participants are feeling challenged is probably a key area we need to explore or focus on in more depth, rather than one to drop.
In one of my recent sessions I put this ethos into practice. I was delivering a session with a group for whom I’d previously adapted activities for these very reasons and it had resulted in them getting a lot less from the session that I’d hoped. This time I made sure that we did the activities I’d planned and it seemed to work well, participants were engaged in active discussions and (hopefully) went away with some ideas for their next steps.
I think my simple message is have confidence in your convictions. If you’ve planned an activity that participants find challenging then give it a go, see how it works. By all means be flexible with your delivery, but remember the reasons for choosing the activities you did and see it through.