Balance is good, because one extreme or the other leads to misery, and I‘ve spent a lot of my life at one of those extremes.

Trent Reznor (*1965)
American Musician

An excellent workshop is always a balance of several factors — depending on the audience. Generally, you’ll find six balances in a group. What went well for one workshop could be too much or too little for another group. To sense and to find the right path for each group is the task of the moderator — a difficult task. Adoptions to the workshop plan might be necessary. Let’s have a look at these balances:

The Six Balances in a group

  • Structure: Some participants might feel it to be too rigid, while others are missing orientation and guidance, thus being too flexible.
  • Pace: For some there is too much new information and everything is going too quickly, while others get bored because there is not enough to learn.
  • Interaction: To cooperate as much as possible is the goal for relationship-orientated people. Others want to prove themselves and relish competition. How much are the workshop components cooperative or competitive?
  • Focus: Is the process in the foreground or are results the objective? The right balance between procedure and results is needed.
  • Concern: Is the focus too much on single individuals or too much on the whole group, with individuals neglected? Don’t forget: every participant should have equal opportunities.
  • Control: Is the moderator dominating and trying to control everything? Or is he too soft and allowing the group to take all decisions and deviate from the plan?

How to apply these balances

The most important is your observation as workshop leader. Look for signs of behaviour and questions. Check them mentally for yourself from time to time.

It will also help you to get feedback on these balances in order to develop. Ask them! Either directly in the session or in the coffee break. Each group is different and you will always have to adjust your balances in order to create the best learning environment.

The six balances in a group should not be mixed up with the 5 stages in a group process. The six balances should be applied throughout, while a group passes through the five stages.


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