5 Tips to Perfect Your YALILearns Session

Desmond presenting at his YALILearns session in February 2019
Desmond presenting at his YALILearns session in February 2019

It wasn’t until Desmond Aboagye started his national service training in Kumasi that he met with university students from across the state and saw a need for mentorship and personal development training among his peers. To address this, Desmond facilitated in March 2019 a YALILearns session on the YALI Network Online Course “Servant Leadership: The Deciding Difference.” The session, which included 70 student and graduate participants, underscored for attendees the importance of personal development in shaping the future of the continent. In this blog post, Desmond shares five ways young leaders can facilitate their own YALILearns sessions and inspire lasting change in their communities.

1. Set an Objective

As Desmond explains, having a clear outcome in mind for your session is critical in organizing a fruitful discussion.

“Have a goal and make sure you’re working towards it,” Desmond advises, emphasizing the importance of a clear, achievable objective at the heart of a successful session.

It’s this objective, Desmond explains, that gives shape to your meeting, determining the right courses to present, questions to pose and materials to share.

Participants at Desmond's YALILearns session in December 2018
Participants at Desmond’s YALILearns session in December 2018

2. Keep Track of Participants

“One challenge we faced in organizing our session was how to predict how many participants would attend, which made it difficult to select a venue and prepare properly,” Desmond says.

“We got around this by creating an application form and confirming participants via email a few days prior to the session.”

In Desmond’s case, with 70 students and graduates participating in his session, it was especially helpful to have a track record of those in attendance both to send follow-up materials and to evaluate the discussion.

3. Meet People in Your Field

“I’ve learned that in life, networking is the key to success and investing in people and knowledge pays off,” Desmond insists.

Meeting new people, as Desmond explains, is particularly helpful if you’d like to feature subject-matter experts in your session or want to hold a follow-up discussion on the topic.

Networking at your session itself is important, too, Desmond says, if only to gauge how well the materials presented are resonating with participants.

Participants at Desmond's YALILearns session in March 2019
Participants at Desmond’s YALILearns session in March 2019

4. Share Real-World Examples

Reflecting on his YALILearns session, Desmond also underlined the importance of sharing relatable examples to drive home course objectives. In this, Desmond found it was especially effective to pose questions that invite participants to reflect on the issues affecting their communities every day.

“We used these experiences to teach participants to apply servant leadership principles in their own lives,” he said.

5. Give It Your All

For Desmond, organizing a successful YALILearns session hinges on your determination and commitment to sharing knowledge with your peers.

“Be ready to sacrifice your time, your energy, whatever it takes,” Desmond says. “And be open to new ideas from colleagues.”

As Desmond sees it, the difference between a mediocre and a meaningful session comes down to the thought behind your objective, the questions you pose and the knowledge you impart.

“I want to be a champion for change,” Desmond says, “a champion for development.”

Interested in holding a YALILearns session like Desmond’s? Find out how you can facilitate your own on our YALILearns page.

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