Front-loading an experience is making clear the purpose of an activity, session, workshop, retreat or meeting prior to actually doing it.
If participants clearly understand the purpose or lesson upfront, that topic will repeatedly show itself during the action component and potentially make it easier to identify during dialogue or discussion.
Front-loading can include a wide range of tools. Below are a few:
- how you set up the activity,
- content you provide immediately prior, essentially ‘priming’ them to spot that topic
- a Full Value Contract,
- the goals for the activity
- Peer Introductions
- having the group read a book on topic, which you can discuss together
Front-loading is particularly valuable when time is short. Letting the participants know the purpose for the time spent also helps direct them later and prevents facilitators (new and skilled) from being to directive and manipulative during the debrief.
As a new facilitator, try this in the first few sessions you run to help keep you and the group on task. For example, you might say something like:
“Remember in the beginning, I said today was about trust. We seem to be moving off that topic and if we are going to move in another direction, we need to agree to spend time on something else.“
What success have you had in front-loading your sessions, workshops or activities?