So, you’ve completed your E3A Certification, secured a client, done the client assessment and scheduled an EAL workshop. Now what?
Unlike a training session in a conference room, the “to-do” list to prepare for an EAL workshop is extensive, given all of the moving parts that must be managed. If you’ve attended the E3A certification, you have a great resource available in the templates that were provided for workshop preparation. In my experience putting on workshops, I’ve found the following three areas of preparation to be critical to having a workshop be successful.
1. Know your abilities as a facilitator. This isn’t a formal item on the preparation list, but it’s a key component to having a workshop be successful. If you are doing a leadership and/or team development workshop with businesses, you and/or your co-facilitator should have experience and knowledge about that world. Business people in particular will be more responsive to your facilitation of the exercises with the horses if you can share your own experience in “their” world. If you’ve never worked in the corporate world, they will question your ability to understand the realities of their challenges. Don’t discount your experience running your farm as business experience. You likely have experience hiring and firing employees, managing multiple projects at one time, dealing with difficult customers and understand the challenges of maintaining services with reduced resources. Also be sure that you are prepared to facilitate the experience with the horses all the way through to the “Transform” stage (of our DIPIT model) so that clients are able to create the action steps needed to take what they learn and apply it back in their workplace. If you are working with youth or doing personal development, be sure you are prepared to help them determine the action steps to apply what they’ve learned to some other area of their life.
2. Know your clients. If you are working with corporate clients, you should have done research on the organization during the assessment process. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of the work they do so you can create powerful metaphors through the context of the horse exercises. If you don’t know that your client’s organization manufactures a certain type of widget, you may miss an opportunity during an exercise with the horses to help them see strengths or challenges as they relate to their work environment. It’s also important to have a good understanding of the organizational culture, mission and values. You learned in the E3A certification that these are areas which need to be understood by the facilitator in order to help the clients drive cultural change and move the organization forward.
3. Know your equine facilitators. Just because you have a horse and a pasture doesn’t mean an EAL workshop is going to be successful. While we know our horses don’t require special training to do EAL work, they do need to have some basic “skills” to be effective in the work. If you’ve attended the E3A certification you have several pages of information on horse behavior and traits of successful equine co-facilitators. It’s also important to remember that how your horses behave with YOU is not how they will likely behave with clients. Clients bring their own “stuff” into the arena/pasture – whether they are corporate clients, youth or personal development clients – and it’s critical that you as a facilitator are prepared to watch your horses carefully for unexpected behavior (good or bad) and to know what that looks like. I can’t believe how many times I’ve been observing clients with my herd and said to my co-facilitator “Wow, I’ve never seen my horses do that before.” With my herd, I know which horses can work together in small areas; I know which horses can manage high energy clients or dysfunctional teams; I have one horse that does not work well with groups but is phenomenal in one-on-one sessions; I know when my horses need a break. Our horses are dependent on us to ensure their well-being with this work as we are asking them to take on a tremendous amount of emotional input from our clients as well as ourselves. When you set them up for success, it will reflect with your clients.
So as you are preparing for your EAL workshop and going through your “To do” list, don’t forget these three things. If you can check these off, forgetting the napkins will be minor. J