As a trainer, it's not unusual to get into a pattern of calling on the energized, extroverted participants. Or perhaps you have a difficult participant who makes a wise crack at every available opportunity. How can a facilitator give other participants a chance to contribute to the conversation without obviously shutting out louder voices?
Rather than defaulting to learners who have their hands raised to answer a question, create a structure for calling on others. This will make for a more inclusive discussion and lead to increased engagement. Here's how:
- As part of your usual preparation of the classroom, place stickers—colored dots, fruit icons, or other type of decal (for example, stars or cartoon characters)—on learners' name tents, participant guides, or the backs of chairs in a random fashion.
- When the time arrives for a debrief or to solicit input from participants, rather than having learners raise their hands, tell the class that you want to hear from those who, for example, have an apple sticker. This enables introverts who may need a moment to gather their thoughts to more actively participate. It'll also put the difficult participant on notice that he should sit this one out. (If you've put the stickers on the back of chairs, this is an opportunity to get participants up and out of their chairs for a moment. Because learners often aren't cognizant that the stickers were present, it also adds an element of surprise.)
- You don't need to call on individuals by sticker color or type for every question; you could mix this in with the usual hand raising. But using the trick can add new perspectives, help introverts gain new confidence, and manage difficult participants.
The same system of planting dots or other type of sticker on learners' chairs, participant guides, or name tents can be used to sort groups into smaller discussion groups. Ask, for example, all the learners with banana stickers to move to table one, all the pears to table two, and so forth.