Monday, 24 November 2008

The Game of Sabotage

As for the second workshop I conducted just last Friday, the objective was to create awareness of the different types of audience one can encounter when giving a presentation and how he or she can handle them. Faced with only a 30 to 45 minute timeslot, I decided to keep the workshop simple and incorporate as much elements into a single activity as possible.

For the purposes of their understanding, I limited the audience-type to 4 broad categories (Hostile, Hijacker, Heckler, Impatient). I began the lesson at a relatively fast pace and started with the activity first. I asked the students to 'sabo' 2 of their classmates to read out a passage (incidentally about having enthusiasm in presentation). Once this was done, I passed around Index Cards (my favourite tool) to all the students with 4 of them having instructions to roleplay the 4 audience types and the rest being blank cards to keep the 2 readers unaware.

I asked the reading of the passage to begin and as it progressed the audience 'reacted' according to their roles. The readers managed to complete their task successfully and I asked them to point out the interfering audience members and the corresponding type that they were. I then asked these 4 roleplaying members of the audience to read out the justification for their behaviour (all plausible explanations of redeeming value) that were indicated on their index cards and asked the 2 readers if they felt as strongly about these disruptive individuals. Unsurprisingly, they were not as annoyed (albeit in a light-hearted manner) having known the reason behind the behaviour.

I then proceeded to the second round of the exercise which entailed inviting the 2 'sabo-ed' students to nominate one of their classmates to re-read the passage. The students once again had a fun time selecting the next 'victim' who duly took up his position. The students were again passed around index cards but this time, the instruction was targetted at all the students in order for them to act as a group.

Once the student began reading, I signalled from behind the reader for the class to either go "OHHH!" or start applauding. Although the student reading was caught off-guard by the reaction of the audience, he nevertheless maintained his composure and completed the task. I talked to the reader and confirmed with him that although he was expecting some interruptions as in the previous round, he did not quite expect the whole class to react.

I then proceeded to explain to the class the value of awareness, preparedness and focusing on the positives when identifying various audience-types. Finally, to reiterate the learning objectives as well as to assess their level of awareness, I furnished a simple worksheet to them in which they were to offer reasons that could explain the behaviour of the 4 audience types that were identified earlier. Each student was asked to complete the worksheet individually and all were collected. It was apparent that the students had been put in the right frame of mind and the following is a snapshot of one student's response that represents the class'.

Although this was hardly an in-depth workshop (limited due to the short amount of time), the essence of the lesson was communicated quite effectively and the students enjoyed their time in spite of it all being rushed (completed in 35 minutes).

In any case, I will be following up this workshop with another supplementary one in January for the same class, so this will give an excellent platform to extend the subject matter in detail.

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