This article series is a humorous look at some of the scary creatures that lurk in the dark corners of any presentation.
Halloween, that most American of holidays, takes place on October 31, 2011. Where most of the young ghouls focus on obtaining candy in exchange for “scaring” adults who answer the door, older ghouls can haunt presenters.
Let’s conjure up some truly classroom ghouls; some trainee tricksters; some participant poltergeists. They can frighten even the most stouthearted from delivering a presentation, but have courage. These creatures, when you use the specific strategies offered in this article series, are easily scared.
The Invisible Participant – This creature possesses a unique ability to disrupt any classroom and bring the proceedings to a halt. It never appears on time. It waits, instead, for a critical moment to burst on the scene.
The best strategy for conquering invisible participants is to show resolve. Begin your instruction when you say you’ll start. No matter how unsettling the disruption may be, do not be manipulated into repeating yourself. Make it obvious that you control for the clock.
The Poltergeist – This creature is an unwilling participant trapped in your presentation, whether required to attend by leadership mandate or to fulfill a requirement. The resentment the poltergeist feels at its situation compels it to complain, argue, or otherwise make its presence known.
This creature is not, fortunately, as dangerous as it appears. It longs for sympathy for its misery. Face the poltergeist squarely. Welcome it. Connect with its concerns. Show it that you mean it no harm. You may be able to free the poltergeist and discover a willing learner trapped within.
The Dominator – This is one of the most fearful creatures in all classrooms. The dominator demands that every situation, every group, and every classroom discussion be under its control. With Godzilla-like focus, this creature pushes all other participants aside.
The dominator is a terrible sight to behold. It can, however, be controlled. The dominator respects power. A talented instructor can shout or insult this monster into submission. But beware. A direct putdown can actually make the dominator more sympathetic.
A smarter dominator defense strategy is to avoid direct confrontation. Rely instead on participant power. Divide the participants into small groups that must select their leaders. The other participants will, out of self-preservation, begin modify the dominator’s behavior for you. You can also domesticate the dominator by establishing a reward system where the participants must reward each other. Once the dominator realizes that he is being ignored, he will self-modify his behavior.
In the next article we will look for ways to conquer the Fly, the Bloviator, and the Zombie.