Facilitate, Collaborate and Listen at the 2020 #NRPAConference

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH | Posted on November 20, 2019

Facilitate Collaborate Listen blog 410

The deadline to submit an education session proposal for next year’s NRPA conference is coming up and it’s easy to get caught up in self-doubt, wondering what you’d present or even letting a fear of public speaking hold you back. As a regular presenter, I encourage you to shift the dynamic to see yourself as a facilitator; consider your workshop an opportunity to share and learn.

Create a Cycle of Learning

Healthier Generation is a proud collaborator of NRPA. You may have heard of us as a training partner for Commit to Health and our new project focused on boosting protective factors. The power of our partnership has been in creating a cycle of learning, finding out what’s working locally and amplifying that nationally. From STEM and wellness to nature and SEL, much of the content that Healthier Generation now champions has come from our multi-year journey engaging with local recreation agencies - speaking at conferences plays a big role. Information you learn while presenting at a national gathering can be invaluable – consider it a focus group with your peers.


From Presenter to Facilitator: 4 Tips

If you’re new to the conference scene and need tips on making a session interactive and participatory, here are practices I use regularly:

1. Start with an interactive welcome. One of my favorite techniques is to hang poster paper around the room with discussion questions like “why did you come to this workshop?” or “what is something you know about this topic?” Kick off your presentation by acknowledging the status of everyone in the room and what they bring to the discussion.

2. Add a brain booster. Consider breaking up your agenda with a two-minute physical activity break. I typically add one between presenting information and small group discussions to give attendees a chance to process what they just heard. One of my favorite pieces of feedback from NRPA Conference 2019 was the individual who called my workshop a “great recharge session.”

3. Incorporate dialogue and reflection. From “pair-up and share” to small group discussions, add time in your agenda for attendees to contribute their stories, expertise and resources to your session. This pivots your workshop from a presentation to a facilitated experience. Here a few additional reflection ideas to try.

4. End on a high note. Ask attendees to share “one thing they learned” and “one question they still have” in groups or in pairs. This quick report out creates a positive ending of shared learning that cultivates an on-going dialogue with participants.

So, what are you waiting for? Submit your session today and if you need ideas for a physical activity break, feel free to connect with me. See you in Orlando for the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference!

NRPA accepted education session proposals for the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida until November 29, 2019.


Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, is the Director of Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation