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Our Approach to Energy Management Training

Our experience has demonstrated that the effectiveness of energy management workshops is only partly the result of the curriculum design.  The facilitation techniques, and, in particular, the communication strategies employed, are also critical success factors.

Our approach to workshop facilitation accommodates several important adult learning principles:

  • Adults have various preferred learning styles and methods for assimilating information;

  • Adults respond most positively to a learning environment that addresses their real problems and circumstances, and that provides practical solutions;

  • Adults have considerable related expertise and experience, and they appreciate the opportunity to use them in the context of the workshop;

  • Not all adults are secure enough in their knowledge to participate fully in discussion; some need extra encouragement and a secure environment;

  • Adults appreciate and respond to effective feedback during the learning process.

The communication strategies that we employ to accommodate these principles include the following:

  • Learning is facilitated in a variety of ways to optimize the effectiveness of the experience for an individual who may learn best by seeing, or hearing, or touching; these strategies include:

    • visuals (overhead slides, photographs, charts, flip chart sketches);

    • oral presentations (mini-lectures on key learning points);

    • interactive facilitated discussions;

    • discovery in small-group discussion sessions;

    • hands-on demonstrations and problem-solving activities.

  • We encourage workshop participants to share their own energy use issues and data so that discussion and problem-solving are made as relevant and practical as possible; the success of our workshops depends in large measure on the extent to which participants leave with solutions to their problems.


  • We view our role as facilitation, rather than instruction per se.  Both at the beginning of workshops, and throughout the sessions, we draw out the knowledge and experience of participants by means of leading questions and by providing ample opportunities for participants to share their expertise.  In problem-solving discussions, we create a “forum” environment in which everyone in the workshop is encouraged to contribute.


  • We are careful to observe who is participating and who is not, and direct questions and opportunities to speak to those who need special encouragement to participate.  We also use facilitation techniques such as well-managed brainstorming—with the “rules” carefully explained—to give everyone opportunities to participate.


  • Facilitation is a two-way process; we spend as much time listening as we do talking, we are careful to acknowledge and commend correct and helpful input, and to provide constructive criticism and correction when needed.

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