We were expecting 50 but only six students showed up to my open campus leadership training at the school. We waited an extra 30 minutes to start and while a few people did trickle in and out, only the initial six remained. In the end we decided to give each of the six a free shirt for coming and then canceled the event. In the moment, I was in agreement and voted to cancel. In hindsight, that was a mistake on my part and an amateur speaker move.
There was no motivation for these students to attend except to better themselves. They had seen me earlier in the year at their orientation and were excited to come back and engage more. How awesome is that?! My mistake was to let them leave without making their effort a positive experience worth their time. Any extra effort by a student should be acknowledged in some way, otherwise chances are they won’t attend the next event.
While I passed time by casually chatting with each person, what I should’ve done is circled the six students up away from the other 44 chairs and done a 30 minute deep dive into their lives and personal challenges. I should’ve moved the session away from the large group powerpoint mentality I was in, and into a small group facilitated discussion and coaching session. In the end, the students would’ve left the room feeling like they got a one-on-one session with me, which is worth way more value than if they were one of 50 other students in a large group training. I could’ve turned a neutral experience into one that elevated the lives of those six students.
Imagine if I left that room knowing each of their stories, dreams, hopes and challenges. Imagine if they left that room with direct access to experiences and knowledge to help them on their journey. That’s the powerful experience we could’ve created, but I wasn’t in the mindset of small group coaching, I was in large group training mode and didn’t make the shift. Next time I’ll be willing to change the program format to better fit the size of the group.
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