Chasing Lightbulbs

If you ask a learning professional their favorite part about facilitation then chances are you will hear something about “lightbulb moments”. That’s when all of the instruction clicks and the participant “gets it”. You can almost physically see it when it happens. They straighten up in their seat and a joyous expression consumes their face. 

It’s in that moment that a facilitator knows their countless hours of preparation, all of the questions they answered, and the class activities they created have paid off. Most people don’t realize how physically daunting facilitation can be. You’re always “on”. You’re in a constant state of positivity and encouragement, regardless of how you may be feeling on that day. Great facilitators take responsibility for their participants’ learning. They want to be sure every objective is covered, every question answered, and every point is landed. At the end of the day, they are mentally and physically drained. So when that lightbulb goes off, they get reenergized. You can have nine of ten lightbulbs go off and feel great. Conversely, even when only one of those lightbulbs goes off, it is cause for celebration after a tough class. 

But what happens when the light never illuminates. As energizing as it is when they go off, it can be equally draining when they don’t. When facilitators set the bar at the lightbulb then it can be a tough fall when it’s not achieved. 

The fact is that some information just isn’t for everyone to “get”. Have you noticed that you can facilitate the same information, the same way for several sessions and still get different results?

The content doesn’t change much, but it’s the people and their various ranges of experiences that make the difference. Sometimes the class’ dynamics lead to lightbulbs and sometimes they don’t. 

This is not to say that the learning professional had little to do with it, but it’s about stepping back and looking at the entire landscape of lightbulbs. 

It’s setting the right bar. Focus on the things you can control, such as knowing your material, delivering the content with clarity, and engaging your participants by involving them in the learning. 

Published by Terrence Shelton

I am a lifelong learner, husband, and father of three. I am also the VP of Learning and Development at Golden 1 Credit Union where I’ve worked for more than 20 years. I have over 10 years as a learning professional. I have a Bachelor’s in Organizational Communication from CSU-Sacramento. My personal values are respect, integrity, positivity, and creating opportunity for myself and all others. This blog allows me to live in those values as I aim to create an opportunity for learning, discussion, and growth for anyone who engages with this site.

One thought on “Chasing Lightbulbs

  1. Yes we work for those “ah-ha” moments and yes it can be challenging! Thanks for the instruction on what to do!


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