(November 23– 30, 2007)
by Narwin J. Espiritu
I have always been someone who develops anxiety before a public
presentation. This is not unusual for a person who lacks confidence
and is always conscious of other’s opinions. Being a staff
member at The Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung’s Philippine office
also added significant pressure for a self-confessed introvert
such as me.
Somewhere along the way however, something happened: I experienced
feelings of self-discovery, self-appreciation and self-confidence.
As a result, I am eternally grateful for having been given the
opportunity to facilitate and moderate in a liberal atmosphere.
Along with 22 participants from 18 countries, I attended the
seminar on “International Moderation Training” from
15-21 October 2007 at the International Academy for Leadership
(IAF) at the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach, Germany.
For the first time, I experienced being involved in an international
seminar in a diverse and industrialized country. My interests
intensified, and I was eager to learn new skills for self-improvement.
I was given a chance to conquer my fear of giving public presentations.
The Facilitators and the Participants
Having professional and experienced facilitators on hand helped
in many ways. Dr. Stefan Melnik and Ms. Bettina Hegmann made the
seminar a lively and comfortable experience. The mix of culture,
traditions, and language brought about by the participants from
five different regions gave us all the chance to learn how to
moderate and facilitate from various perspectives. What I am truly
proud of with this group however, are the strong bonds of camaraderie
and friendship that developed over the course of the training.
Activities like early morning jogging, sight-seeing, shopping
and indoor activities at night are just some of the unconventional
approaches employed by the group to encourage cohesion among the
participants. One memorable game was Wolves and Villagers, where
quarreling and bickering are promoted. Since the success of the
game depends on how much individual personalities clash, the moderators
were surprised at how comfortable everyone became towards the
Energizer and Division of Groups
Another exciting feature of the seminar was the energizers. The
moderators asked the participants to do ‘energizers’
at the start of the day, and another energizer before the afternoon
session. I also learned that the division of groups should depend
on what the facilitators hope to achieve for each session. Facilitators
take into account the personalities and backgrounds of the participants,
along with the subject at hand. I realize now that a good training
workshop requires a relaxing atmosphere for all the participants.
Participants need to be in their comfort zones in order to be
physically and mentally focused on the sessions.
Live Recorded Presentations
Another memorable part of the seminar was when each participant
was tasked to do a five minute presentation. We were given enough
time to prepare our materials and speeches. A video recorder was
used to capture all the presentations. At the end of the session,
all the videos were played and analyzed not only by the moderators,
but also by the other participants. One would receive insights
on proper moderation skills as well as constructive suggestions
on areas that needed improvement.
Stage fright seemed to be common during all the presentations.
Each participant had their own method of presenting their topic.
Some used notes and cards, while others just spoke spontaneously.
The more skilled moderators and participants delivered their presentations
with ease, particularly the politicians who are used to giving
speeches in public. By watching their own video, the presenter
could easily notice their own mistakes. One thing I realized is
that regardless of one’s experience with public speaking,
everyone actually had their own share of stage fright during the
session. This made me feel comfortable and confident.
Dealing with Stage Fright
The seminar taught us the most basic ways to deal with stage
fright: how to stand up straight, relaxing the body, not making
your legs and waist stiff and anchoring your feet from left to
right. Other methods included focusing attention on the audience
who in turn respond through eye contact. We learned that one should
never be affected by negative external factors that may cause
one to lose focus. In the end however, we were taught that the
best way to reduce stage fright is just to come very well prepared.
Helpful Methods for Facilitation
The facilitators taught us on how to control and moderate our
voices. We were taught to do respiratory exercises such as proper
breathing, and we practiced word clarity by reading tongue-twisters
We also learned the proper use of moderation boards, flipcharts
and cue cards. The facilitators also disclosed tips and tricks
on how to put invisible marks or labels that would make presentations
easier. In the end, we came to the conclusion that a good facilitator
should also have the ability to improvise.
Appearance also plays an important role in conducting presentations.
Our facilitators cited a survey on what areas usually catch the
audience’s attention. The survey was conducted by Hamburg
University in Germany. They learned that 60 percent of the audience’s
attention goes to body language, 30 percent to choice of words
and 7 percent to 10 percent goes to actual content. With this
in mind, we were taught the proper use of hand gestures, the suitable
clothes to wear and the content preparation.
Another important skill required for facilitators is clear hand-writing.
We were taught calligraphy, which involves the proper use of markers
depending on the written medium and also on the range and number
of audience members in a particular seminar.
With all of these experiences and skills we shared and learned,
I can say that we have achieved our goal during this once-in-a-lifetime
seminar. My gratitude goes to our hardworking facilitators and
to my newfound liberal friends. May we all go and share what we
have learned with our countrymen.