Energy and Authenticity
Whether you are leading a single two-hour meeting or a series of half-day sessions, a degree of energy is essential to keeping the group interested and engaged.
In our flagship course, The Effective Facilitator, we teach the importance of facilitators starting most sessions at level-3 energy. We then go through an exercise where participants gain feedback from the class to help them find their level 3.
Yet, when we teach level-3 energy in our training classes, we often hear a comment such as, “I’m not sure I could do level-3 energy in my sessions. It seems so inauthentic. It’s not me. I would feel like I am trying to be a game show host.” And of course as facilitators it is important for each of us to be authentic and to be comfortable with the strategies and tools we use in our facilitation.
When I teach facilitation, I often share with the class my “grandma example.” I explain that my grandmother is hard of hearing and so when I speak with her, I speak extra loud. I ask them, “Is that my natural speaking voice?” Of course, they respond, “No.” And I explain that, in fact, it feels unnatural to me. Then I ask, “Am I being inauthentic when I speak in a loud voice?” Once more, most respond, “No.” And I explain that, if I did not speak in a loud voice, my grandmother might not hear me. And so, in fact, my speaking loudly is an authentic representation of my desire for my grandmother to hear me.
In the same way, those who truly know me, know that I am an introvert whose natural communication style tends to be that of a systems analysis (which happens to be my background). I get my energy from within and prefer a quieter, more analytical approach to solving group problems. However, I have learned that my natural quiet style is not nearly as effective when facilitating groups. So when I stand up to facilitate, it is show time. It is the time for me to pull forth from within me what little extroversion I have, magnify it, and let it shine. It is indeed work, and I’m exhausted when it’s over. But I have seen the impact on groups. Though exhausting, I find the group’s response exhilarating and well worth it.
Is it authentic? My answer is, “Yes.” But not in the way one would traditionally mean. If I speak in my natural style, as with my grandmother, the group might not “hear” me or be as receptive to my message. So my speaking at level-3 is an authentic representation of my desire to be of maximum benefit to the group. What I hope the group feels is my true desire to help.