Jan 11 2012

Managing Passives

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In the blog “Who Comes to Your Workshops”, I identified three kinds of workshop attendees; participants, passives and prisoners. I left the reader with a few questions, one of which was; "How do you manage the passives in a workshop?:


These folk are pleasant but not in the workshop mode. They view the workshop as time to kick back, relax and enjoy themselves. They are non-committal, arriving with low expectations yet with a pleasant attitude. As a trainer, your primary challenge is one of motivation.

Here are some tips and techniques to consider in your attempt to invite passives to become participants.

Connect with work

In advance, conduct an audience audit so that you are aware of attendees work opportunities and responsibilities. Then early in the workshop, address linkages between workshop content and workload. Promote workshop benefits as well.


Use subgroups where possible and place the passive with a group of participants. The energy and involvement of participants may encourage the passive to ‘join in’.

Shared responsibility

In a non-threatening way, appoint passives as leaders of their subgroups. Putting them in positions of responsibility can help them become more involved and interactive.

Group Questions

Instead of relying on individuals to ask questions, have subgroups generate two to three questions to be addressed in a Q & A session. By placing the onus on the subgroup, you draw out the passives and encourage them to contribute their queries – again in a non-threatening way.

What other techniques or approaches have you used?

Trainer's Edge