Early in June I was delighted to be invited to give a talk to The British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT). It was their annual lunch, volunteer celebration event and prize giving held at Café Spice Namasté in London.
I was asked to run an engaging session, to last 90 minutes, and which would be eligible for CPD hours and which included my neuroscience focus on resilience and mental strength. The audience size was 50, so one might default to more of a lecture style of presentation. But I wanted this group of nutritional therapists to get some meaningful benefit from our time together.
I asked two questions ahead of the event:
- What part(s) of being a nutritional therapist could test your resilience; and
- To think about a time doing the job, when you have felt at your most mentally strong and most mentally vulnerable.
I understood that the people in the room were like me, insofar as their clients were people seeking their expertise and help. I wanted to give the group the opportunity to consider their personal experiences, to ‘voice their thinking’ and connect with their thoughts. I put together a workbook to facilitate thought and discussion and to create a physical memory, key to the generation of new neuropathways, to take away from doing the activity.
The session in practice
People were sat together in groups of four and first discussed in pairs a challenge each had faced during their life. They were asked to outline the challenge, what needed to be done, what actions took place and the resultant outcomes. Those sat together did not always know each other well, so I did need people to trust each other to share some emotional thoughts.
Interestingly, what became apparent (as I had hoped) was that vulnerabilities and successes when thinking in a professional practice context were similar for each of the people in the groups. Many though had never shared these thoughts with the professional colleagues they sat with. Once people appreciate that they have a shared relevant experience e.g. anxiety, they are willing to share coping/management strategies and support for each other.
There was a good buzz as I walked among the tables and as with any group work some were more open with their thoughts than others. The session was a really good ‘stretch’ exercise for me too in terms of audience management. I needed to be assertive enough to keep the event on time, but not so forthright as to lose the momentum of the discussions. While one is always learning, I’m pretty pleased with how it went, and over lunch there were supplementary questions and positive comments from those taking part.
If you are in a professional association and responsible for organising a group meeting, Dominique has a portfolio of presentations and workshops about leadership and management from over 20 years of experience. Supplementing this is with her understanding of neuro-coaching and neuroscience to facilitate mental resilience that enables people to improve performance in pressure situations.