There’s a lot to think about when planning a workshop, and along with making sure we’re as engaging as possible, we get caught up in how we’re delivering our message, that we don’t realize how it’s being received.
Outside of evaluating your workshop, there’s a great tool that’s been used by teachers, healthcare professionals, and social workers alike. It’s called the Teach Back method, and you’re going to start incorporating this into your workshops.
The Teach Back method (also known as the “show me method”, or “closing the loop” is a practice where the facilitator asks the workshop participants to explain a concept or skill based on the workshop topic, essentially taking on the role of facilitator. The Teach Back allows you to gauge your participants’ understanding of a topic or concept. The Teach Back also determines how effective you are at teaching or demonstrating a concept or skill within of your workshop. Merely standing in front of your participants and reciting information, even if you’re engaging them, doesn’t lead to a high increase of behavior change in the long run.
If your workshop participants are able to Teach Back, it means they most likely understand the material, especially since they’re tasked with teaching to their peers.
Along with retaining information, some of the benefits of the Teach Back method include:
- Participants see themselves as experts, rather than relying solely on the expertise of the facilitator
- Participants will most likely employ the behavior in real world situations
- Participants are able to retain information when it’s recited in their own words
As the facilitator, you also benefit from the Teach Back method:
- There’s less focus on you being the expert, and more focus on you being a resource
- You can identify and correct any misunderstandings. If you observe that you have a few participants that also have the same misunderstanding, this gives you the opportunity to re-teach the concept
- You can tie together your workshop topic and apply key concepts and skills to real world situations that are familiar to your participants
- You can ask your participants to repeat what you’ve said in their own words
The Teach Back method is often used in healthcare settings as a way for healthcare professionals to confirm that their patients understood what instructions to take to promote health and wellness. A common example is when a doctor is instructing a patient on how to take a particular medication. Instead of expecting an “I understand” answer, the doctor can ask, “So, tell me what you’re going to do with this medication when you wake up tomorrow?” to have the patient repeat back, in her or his own words, how to properly take the medication and to clarify any misunderstandings.
Here’s how to use the Teach Back method for your next workshop: