It’s been a while since I wrote something, so I figured I will start again with something easy yet super helpful: explain everything before telling people to move, otherwise, you might have to explain everything again.

Let’s work with an example situation, one where I want to introduce a new workshop format:

“Now please get into groups of three and make sure to introduce yourself first!”
“The task is to build the tallest lego tower with the pieces we will hand out in a minute”

Now I am sure a lot of folks will recognize this as something obvious right away, especially if you ever had to work in a classroom setting: right after the first sentence, the first people will start forming groups, talking, gesticulating. Overall, they’re generally not paying any attention to me, but to their peers instead.

Whatever I said after the “call to action” will go completely unnoticed and I won’t get a chance to repeat it until the dust has settled down again.

If I rephrase it in a way that has the “call to action” at the end though, suddenly there’s a much higher chance that more people will have paid attention to the objective before moving to act.

“The task will be to build the tallest lego tower possible with the pieces I have here.”
“I will distribute them after you have formed groups of three.”

This even leaves a gap for any questions regarding the lego tower before you move on to the group formation phase!

Despite it being a tiny change in how I introduce formats, I still found that it made my workshops much less chaotic and more productive. Hope it helps you too!

From the Toolbox is a compilation of small practices, tools and life-hacks I collected over the years.