How to Get Rid of Classroom Crickets!

Sometimes when facilitating workshops, after the icebreaker was over, I’ve heard crickets! I started my presentation. It appeared that every one was engaged because they were quiet. Then, I did the unthinkable – I asked the class a question! Suddenly, I found out the number one rule when faced with a quiet classroom. DON’T ASK THEM ANY QUESTIONS! Any experienced meeting facilitator or public speaker knows that! But you are bold, so you ask – with excitement in your voice, “how is everyone doing today?” You hear a slight, “fine,” mingled with some other murmuring.  Knowing that is your responsibility to excite the crowd, you say something like, “that wasn’t good enough! Are we alive this morning? How is everyone doing!!!” Now, you hear a thunder of responses, but afterwards, crickets! Your whole presentation could potentially go downhill after that if you don’t have some good stuff planned. No facilitator likes a class room that is so quiet that you can hear the crickets outside. Below are my tips for “reviving” your classroom.

  • Be sure to provide name tags for everyone so that you can call participants by name.
  • Have an awesome get up and move icebreaker
  • Know your audience – start off talking about a trending event that is interesting
  • Incorporate the participants’ personalities into your presentation. If you see “rebellion (people who are determined not to participate),” don’t push buttons! Allow the participant’s body language to guide you. When ready, he or she will participate voluntarily.
  • Be knowledgeable about a specific topic (do your research) to provide uncommon insight`1
  • Create a skit (see below)
    • If a participant seems quiet and reserved, wait until others are engaged before you engage him/her
    • Don’t ask for help, give assignments, (“Jim, I want you to represent an employer today.”)
  • Have options, like starting off with a funny, but short video
  • Have fun! Be creative! Using cookie-cutter rules to facilitating can grow stale fast.

The point is, you have to get your classroom engaged in a variety of ways.  If you are going to ask a question, ask a particular person, one who looks enthusiastic. If you can’t find such a person, skip the question or answer it yourself!

More facilitating tips and tricks are coming soon!

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