High energy does three important things:
- It energizes the topic.
- It engages the participants.
- It elevates the facilitator.
How does High Energy Energize a Topic?
When a facilitator leads a session with energy, the energy transfers to the topic. By being passionate about the topic, you are implicitly saying to the participants, “This is important to me, and it should be important to you.” Your actions and your energy around the topic help energize the topic for the participants. And, just as high energy can make a topic more interesting, likewise, low energy can make a topic less interesting.
How does High Energy Engage the Participants?
For most people, high energy is just more appealing to listen to than low energy. In essence, high energy is just more fun. Of course there is a point where high energy goes “over the top” and becomes less interesting and more irritating. But, short of being over done, high energy invites participants to listen and stay alert. Unfortunately, low energy can invite participants to check out or fall asleep. I’m sure you, like me, have experienced this many times with speakers in a variety of circumstances.
How does High Energy Elevate the Facilitator?
Energy can have a significant impact on the participants’ perception of the facilitator. As a consultant, when I spoke with clients, I used a low-key consulting voice, which was intended to project sincerity and concern. I wanted to let my clients know that I was concerned about their needs and wanted to be as helpful to them as possible.
Unfortunately, when I facilitated, I would speak with the same, low-key voice. While it was an effective consulting voice, it was a lousy facilitation voice. Why? When a facilitator drops his/her energy, the session drags. When a facilitator keeps his/her energy up, the participants follow. One participant said he followed a facilitator because “he seemed to know what he was doing.”
The critical point here is that the facilitator’s high energy projected confidence. High energy gave the impression that he knew what he was doing. Let’s reverse the point. If high energy can project high confidence, then low energy can project low confidence. So, during my consulting days, my low energy during facilitation was projecting to the participants that I had low confidence. In other words, I was giving up power when I facilitated.
So, keep up your energy high and remember the impact those 3 “Es” have in your meetings. Want to learn how to start a virtual meeting with high energy (and keep it that way)? Read more here.
Certified Master Facilitator Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company and author of The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in facilitation services, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement and others. The company is also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States, having trained over 18,000 individuals.