Guests at your session

Guests are often part of YDI training sessions and they can bring both positives and negatives to a session. Here are some tips for sympathy guests, empathy guests, and for having no guests at all.

Sympathy guests

A bereaved family member or an injured teenager can elicit a strong emotional response from the audience and participants’ immediate responses to such sessions can give the impression that the testimony has been effective.

However, research has shown that despite the emotional reaction of an audience and the heart breaking nature of the stories told, there is little actual behaviour change evident once the session is over.

When considering whether to include this kind of guest whether in person or in a film clip, make sure you consider how much time you have and how you can use this time most effectively to generate your desired learning outcomes. Or why not shift the focus away from a parent who has lost their child to one who has a contract with their child about safe driving?

Empathy guest

A common guest is a school liaison officer from the police force or the fire service. If this type of guest plays the part of an authority figure the result with certain groups of young people may the opposite of that desired.

However, if the officer is able to connect to the young people and talk about recognisable behaviour, they can be effective. Police officers can be good at connecting with young male participants who have a passion for cars.

They can use this passion to encourage good driving behaviour and produce an aspiration in the young people to be expert drivers in well-maintained vehicles.

Facilitator for discussion

A community or youth worker can be an excellent addition as a guest at a YDI because they have been specially trained to engage with young people and often know great techniques for encouraging active participation and ways to get the group talking.

Another useful facilitator can be a peer such as another young person who can advocate safe driving and discuss familiar issues such as peer pressure to drive fast or accept risky behaviour.

No guest

Of course you don’t need to have a guest speaker at all! A session which is focussed precisely around your own ideas and planning, can be equally or more effective at producing the learning outcomes you want.

Sometimes it’s easier to keep discussion focussed and to steer the group back on track when you’re in charge of the session. If you only have a short period of time in which to work with the young people, a guest can be a “wild card” you don’t need when developing an effective training session.

Don’t be worried about running a session with little support from materials or from a guest: these types of sessions can be more effective if you keep it focussed, engage the group and encourage active participation and discussion.