The art and science of thinking together
A guide for facilitators
Tips to Get Ready
A few things to consider as you get ready to facilitate the workshop:
Choose the workshop format
I've facilitated this workshop in large groups and small groups, in person and online. Never have I been able to complete it in less than four hours, and even that's difficult. If you can get people to commit to a daylong version – say six hours – that would be ideal. Another option is to break the workshop up into weekly series of 2-hour meetings.
Decide the group size
I suggest keeping your workshop group small, preferably 6-8 people. It’s very hard to go into depth with larger group sizes. If you have a larger group, consider breaking folks into sub-groups of 6-8 for conversation purposes. This gives more people a chance to speak. Also, many people are not comfortable speaking in a large group, but will come alive in a small group setting.
Create the environment
The environment you create plays a determinative role in the quality of your workshop. From the start you want people to feel welcomed and safe. Everyone has a certain amount of anxiety coming into a facilitated conversation. The following suggestions are designed to help reduce that anxiety.
- Do what you can to create a warm physical environment. Plants or flowers help. If possible, provide simple snacks and/or drinks.
- Welcome everyone as they arrive. If people are new to each other, have nametags.
- When you’re ready to start, and the group size is small enough, have participants sit in a circle. This helps foster a sense of community, and makes it easy for people to see each other.
- Take a moment to orient people to the space, for instance letting people know where the bathrooms are.
- Have an agenda ready that you can post. People like to know where you’re taking them.
- Finally, the spirit you bring to the dialogue is the most important factor for a successful conversation. People will pick up and reflect your energy, so be warm, inclusive and present!