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The Voice: A Model for Effective Facilitation

The other night while my wife was distracted, I stole the TV remote and tuned in to The Voice. She asked why I’ll watch The Voice when I don’t watch American Idol or other similar shows. I had to think about it for a moment.

It is true, The Voice is one of the guilty pleasures I’ll indulge in when my day is done. But why? It’s the only show I can think of on TV in which power is dispersed all over the place. Judges decide who stays during the “blind audition” phase. Contestants often have the opportunity to choose which judge they will work with. Judges can “steal” contestants. Viewers can decide the fate of contestants.

And of course, as I reflected on this further, my one-track mind began to see a metaphor for the ideal training situation. Power between the facilitator and the attendees should have a similar ebb and flow.

Instead of facilitators taking on the role of a Simon Cowell-like sage-on-the-stage, holding all the wisdom and answers that matter, the facilitator needs to be willing to return power to the attendees – inviting their participation through discussion, small group interactions, even “boomeranging” questions from the group back to the rest of the audience.

To me (and plenty of other viewers), The Voice is fun to watch because the power dynamics are in a constant state of flux, and the audience has a say in who wins.

When it comes to your next presentation, I think there are two guiding questions:

  1. How predictable (boring) will the power dynamics be in the room?
  2. Will your audience have a say in how things turn out?

Think someone else could appreciate the metaphor between The Voice and the training room? Pass this post along!

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