Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Health and Wellbeing

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Health and Wellbeing

Health and Wellbeing

Hello again.So it’s 2020… How did that happen? About 5 years ago all the organizations we were working with were rightly looking forward to 2020 and doing their five-year plans. Quite a lot of them were understandably talking about 2020 vision.

2020 Vision – What does it even mean?!

At a pub quiz we were at recently, one of the questions was ‘what does the 20/20 in 20/20 vision mean’? Do you know? We didn’t. Well apparently, “normal” vision is 20/20. The test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 feet that a person with “normal” vision sees at 20 feet. So 20 /40 means the test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 ft that a normal person sees at 40. Got it? No? Me neither. So the word you’re looking for is …..anyway….

This month we have been looking ahead into the new year and reviewing what we think will be at the forefront of peoples’ minds at work in 2020. And also how we are going to focus on these subjects when we are designing conferences this year and beyond.

So far we’ve covered:

  • The environment and global concerns.
  • How diversity, equity and inclusion is the way for fair-minded companies.

This week we are going to consider:

  • Physical and mental health as a vital consideration for both employers and employees.

And next week we will be looking at:

  • How life-long learning both in and out of work is essential

So let’s think about physical and mental health in terms of what you can expect at a conference where Purple Monster have had some influence in design and delivery.

When we first started doing big conferences for BIG companies some 20 years ago now, the emphasis was always on experiences and getting people to do something rather than just be talked at for three days. Those principles haven’t changed but what is much more nuanced nowadays is the conscious thinking that goes on behind the experience that the attendee has at the conference. We always say that our main job is ‘to look after the delegate experience’ from the minute they walk into the venue until they leave at the end of the day or week.

Now we cannot be made responsible for each individual’s mental health or indeed their physical conditioning but as thoughtful conference designers we do want to create an experience that will be beneficial to people in terms of their physical and mental well- being. So here’s a few pointers…

1. Try and do something that is physically energising without being exclusive to others

We once worked with an executive team who were very competitive amongst themselves and were a great bunch of people to work with.

When we arrived at the venue we were told that we were going to start Monday morning with a five mile run, Tuesday morning was a ten mile cycle ride and Wednesday morning was a swim. Wow. Now we like exercise and understand that as a team they really bonded over this physical start to the day but I always wondered what it was like when a new member joined the team.

Did they feel compelled to join in? What would happen if they weren’t a physical type? It was also rather exclusive. It didn’t mean to be but it was. If anyone suffered an injury or was dealing with any physical impairment then their place in the team was ‘diminished’ by their inability to join in.

But physical well-being is terribly important, so it is always worth considering leaving time in the agenda for people to start their day in the way they want to.

  • Leave space in the agenda in the morning and at the close of the day for people to fit in their own way to re-energize.
  • Hopefully your venue will have one but if not, try and find access to a good gym. People like the gym and the benefits, of course, are enormous.
  • Consider planning physical sessions with a sponsor. Allow one team member to take the lead when planning a run or a swim or for that matter a cycle ride. And ensure that all levels are catered for.
  • Offer a gentler alternative. Yoga or Pilates is a great way to start the day. It doesn’t suit everyone but for the less physically competitive it can be a great way in to physical wellness.
  • Always ensure that there is plenty of water on hand throughout the days (in a reusable bottle of course)

2. Design sessions that have mental well-being at the heart

Recently we were part of a conference and the whole venue made it a restful experience. The venue planner had very thoughtfully booked the venue right on the seafront overlooking a beautiful Mediterranean bay.

We know not every conference or meeting can be in such beautiful surroundings but this definitely had a gentler quality to it and we were assured by them that the rate was not significantly worse than for a swanky city hotel with all the accompanying urban expense.

  • Factor in well being sessions into the design. As well as the physical, include mentally stimulating options as a way to kick off your days.
  • Look outside of the ordinary. There are wonderful restful options out there like Street Wisdom and Zentangle. They take the same amount of time as a run or gym session and will appeal to the less physically inclined colleagues.
  • There a thousands of brilliant TED talks around well being and mental wellness. Include these in your conference design. Either share links to them or base your actual sessions around them.

3. Appetite and Refreshment

We talked last week around ensuring that diet and dietary requirements are taken into account. There are other considerations too though:

  • Ensure the venue and conference has ‘healthy’ snacks and that the breaks are not just a long line of people queuing for one coffee machine.
  • Carbohydrates can make you sleepy. Lots of fresh produce is a good plan.
  • Make breaks in the day significantly long enough to allow people to recharge their batteries. Don’t rush them back into session after a 30 minute lunch break because you have to let Kris have the full 2 hours for their strategic ideation presentation
  • We are not the arbiters of moderation and certainly are not advocating temperance at all of our meetings but please do consider the availability of alcohol throughout your meeting. Don’t have a Gala evening and then expect everyone to show up again at 0800 the next morning for Kris’s strategic ideation presentation. Plan accordingly 😊

So there are just a few examples of the way in which we can impact the health and wellness of our delegates at conferences. It is also a responsibility as good humans, let alone colleagues and workmates to also keep an eye out for those who look as if they are having a tough time or are struggling with a physical condition that is having an impact on their health. We are not suggesting intrusion or intervention but please just continue to question and ask your colleagues if they are doing ok and be prepared to listen when they answer.

Oh, and stop sidelining Kris…what’s the matter with two hours on strategic ideation?

Do you want to make your 2020 events more conscious and mindful whilst not compromising on the engagement, fun and impact?

Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Inclusion, Equity and Diversity

Happy New Year! Can we still say that on the 14th January? I hope so.

If you missed us last week you missed a treat. Go on tell them… anyway it’s good to have you back and it’s good to be sharing our thoughts for what we think 2020 may hold.

What is reflecting the zeitgeist? Come to think of it what is the zeitgeist? Well it’s literally the German for time and spirit as you know 😊 but the dictionary definition is “the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time”.

So, in terms of business and people in business, what is the defining mood of our particular time?

Last week we mentioned how conversations have started to shift to talk more about: the environment and global concerns.

  • How life-long learning both in and out of work is essential.
  • How diversity, equity and inclusion has become more than just a fad but a non-negotiable with forward thinking companies across the globe.
  • Physical and mental health is thankfully now in the mainstream too and is now a vital consideration for both employers and employees.

About three years ago, two unconnected but similarly thoughtful clients and friends suggested we should look at Unconscious Bias. It was at that point that we were introduced to the wonderful book Blind Spot by Mazharin Banaji and Antony Greenwald.

The brilliant sub-heading or subtitle of the book is ‘The hidden biases of good people’ and it set us off a’ thinking.

Obviously, we all think we are good people and to a greater or lesser extent we all demonstrate that ‘goodness’ all the time through our actions, opinions and even personal thoughts. But what if we weren’t quite as equitable and fair-minded as we thought. Well, read the book.. follow some of the practices… take a Harvard IAT test.. and you will find for yourself just how ‘enlightened’ and ‘good’ you are.

And please be assured that this is not meant as a gauntlet thrown down by the blameless, faultless, guilt free perfect beings at Purple Monster.

On the contrary, looking into this work has thrown up our own doubts, biases, micro inequities and highlighted times when we have neglected to be as inclusive as we should.

In a way that is the very point of considering this subject in the first place. Because of our history, geography and upbringing we have been broadly brought up in a time where inequities have existed in the workplace and where a ‘traditional’ look at the world is the norm.

It is a constant challenge to ourselves and to everyone to ‘check our privilege’ and consciously take time to consider a new and more diverse approach.

1. Ensure all panels, speakers, contributors have diverse backgrounds and thinking

So we thought that we should take the same approach to planning meetings and conferences and apply this lens to looking at the way we shape our designs.

We are very fortunate to work with some very forward thinking and high calibre people. The two clients and friends that we mentioned earlier are examples of this.

One is a senior executive with a very large multinational company who has chosen to follow a D&I agenda fully and encouraged us to do the same.

The other is a life force, also performing a vital role in a global company. Open minded, thoughtful, kind and the sort of teacher who we know we will be talking about as an influence on our lives for years to come.

They come from very different backgrounds, are based in different locations and are scrupulously fair when planning events. They are ideal candidates to be on panels and to be strong contributors when running sessions at conferences and meetings. Yet we have seen them both take a back-seat approach to this and, in the interest of creating sessions that are more inclusive, instead encourage others to be the ones upfront.

Consider these questions when planning whose voice is upfront at your conference.

  • Have you consciously considered who should be on your panel?
  • Do you operate a fair pay policy for speakers?
  • Are all speakers getting paid in accordance with their experience?
  • Do your speakers have a fair gender split?
  • Are various levels of the organisation represented?
  • Are you hearing from your suppliers, partners and customers?
  • Is the ethnicity of your speaker group representative of your workforce and supplier base?

There is nothing that represents retrograde thinking in a company or organisation like a panel that is ‘male, pale and stale’.

We don’t want to offend anyone by using that phrase but we do ask you to consider what is meant by it and what a panel looks like when it is populated by only one homogenous group of people.

There is so much more that can be learned from people with differing views, backgrounds and perspectives. And if you plan speakers and experts in advance, then you will avoid any last minute rush for someone to ‘balance it out’.

2. Be mindful about designing sessions that include everyone

Many years ago we ran a session that required people to consider their sporting achievements at school or since.

At the end of the session one of the participants approached us and said that the question was very hard for her to answer as she was in a wheelchair and had little access to sport when she was growing up.

It was an example of not thinking in an inclusive way about the impact of our questions. We hadn’t meant to exclude her but because of our own unconscious sloppy thinking we had done.

Thankfully in the time that has elapsed, participation for people with mobility issues has increased enormously and we hope there is a greater understanding for people who have both visible and invisible impairments. Our questions have altered as a result.

Consider the less than obvious:

  • How far are the distances between sessions?
  • Is there good access for people with mobility issues?
  • Is the lighting in your room conducive to running a productive session?
  • Does the music really need to be that loud?
  • Are icebreaker sessions considerate of the introverted?
  • Ask people confidentially, during the conference, what adjustments would help make them able to contribute fully

3. Food is important

Ask any conference organiser to show you their excel spreadsheet of the different dietary requirements and your mind will boggle at the differences that people require when planning their diet.

Some people have religious observances that need to be respected, some people have serious allergies, others have made dietary choices that mean that certain foods are excluded.

Whatever the reasons there are many things that have to be considered when planning the food and beverages at any meeting or conference.
Consider these possibilities?

  • Before booking your venue, really check with them how flexible their dietary offer is
  • Ask the venue to provide fresh fruit as well as other more traditional sweet snacks
  • Ensure there is always plenty of water on offer
  • Consider the impact of a ‘heavy’ lunch on afternoon sessions
  • Respect people’s choices around diet
  • Here we have provided just 3 examples of ways in which we can make our meetings and conferences more thoughtful but there will be hundreds more examples which we’d be very happy for you to share with us.

Please tweet us with ways in which you believe we can be more inclusive when planning our meetings. @purplemonsteruk

Starting with our investigations into our own biases and then continuing to make some of our decisions more conscious means that our meetings and conferences can all be a little more thoughtful and hopefully inclusive in 2020 and beyond.

Do you want to make your 2020 events more conscious and mindful whilst not compromising on the engagement, fun and impact?

Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – environmental sustainability

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – environmental sustainability

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events

  • Events need to consider their environmental impact
  • They are genuinely diverse and inclusive
  • Delegates are supported to look after their health and wellbeing

Happy New Year! It’s January and that always makes us think about the roman god Janus after whom January is named.

He was represented as having two faces. One looking back at the old year and one looking forward to the new.

So, as we gear up to take on 2020, we have been reflecting on what we learnt in 2019 and what we think 2020 might hold in the year ahead.

During 2019 conversations noticeably shifted. We talked to leaders across the globe in a wide range of industries and the same themes were discussed time and time again.

Environmental consideration went mainstream, learning was paramount, diversity became a strategic imperative and wellbeing including mental health started to become a vital consideration for both employers and employees.

Our prediction for the conferences of 2020 and beyond is that delegates will expect that

  • Events they attend consider their environmental impact
  • They are genuinely diverse and inclusive
  • That their desire to look after their health and wellbeing is supported.

We hope that individuals start to question and challenge events that don’t take this approach and over time, it becomes the norm rather than the exception.

As an organisation who is passionate about these subjects we want to promote this as the default approach for any business event.

So we have updated our conference planning canvas to not only provide a framework for strategically planning the event but advice on what practical steps you can take in order to reduce environmental impact, promote diversity and inclusivity and improve on health and wellbeing.

Download our updated canvas with our checklist as to how to be more conscious and mindful in your event planning.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of your event.


This week we are providing tips and advice for how to reduce the environmental impact of an event. Over the next few weeks we will also explore the other elements.

We attend many, many events during a year and in 2019 we started to notice that organisations and even individuals who make a lot of effort to be environmentally conscious seem to forget this approach when it comes to running internal events.

Plastic water bottles, disposable coffee cups, masses of printing and waste, excess flights and car travel are all the default and while it is often not intentional, these areas are simply just not on the radar when it comes to the planning and execution of event delivery.

So here are a couple of things that will help to create about a more environmentally friendly approach to conference planning.

1. Take active steps to promote responsible transport options.

At Purple Monster we have always been advocates for face to face engagement. There’s nothing like the energy and impact of a face to face conference in terms of the memories that one can create. But, the environmental cost of flying delegates all over the world does need to be considered.

Ways you can reduce this impact:

  • Use systems to calculate the ideal location resulting in the least travel for all your attendees.
  • Challenge the attendee list – the fewer people attending, the less travel. Can you do one main event then a series of more local events to capture more people but reduce travel?
  • Use carbon offsetting for all flights that do need to be made.
  • For events not requiring flights, promote public and shared transport options over individual car travel. Consider offering train timetables and shuttle bus information in joining instructions. Make it easy for people to carshare or even not drive!
  • And finally – avoid people travelling at all – it is possible to create highly engaging and interactive virtual events.

2. Provide alternative options to single use plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups.

People are becoming much more responsible and using refillable water bottles and cups in normal everyday life but it is easy for conference providers to forget this commitment when at a business event for a few days. Ensure single use bottles, disposable cups, plastic cutlery etc are simply not available at your event. Insist that your venue takes responsibility for this and make it part of your policy that you won’t book venues that use such materials.

3. Demonstrate steps to reduce waste i.e remove venue notepads from tables, minimal merchandise.

Think back to the last event you attended either inside your organisation or maybe an external event. How much ‘stuff’ were you given? Did you use the paper that was on your table or did you just doodle on it?

Be considerate around what needs printing – can agendas, slides and information be provided on an app or website rather than physically handed out?
Ask your venue to remove any notepads or printed material from the rooms you are using.
Be thoughtful when deciding merchandise or giveaways. We are not saying ban it all together but do people really need another branded pen or stress toy?

Everything that occurs in a large-scale event has some level of environmental as well as a pecuniary impact.

With a more conscious approach to the planning of your conferences we can make huge reductions in those environmental and budgetary costs, with little or no visible effect on the delegate experience.

With the devastating environmental disasters that are occurring all over the globe as we write this then it seems a good time to look back and forward like Janus to see what we can do to make a difference.

Remember 10 years ago we were not really recycling at all but it is common practice now. So we can do it. Think about it next time you are planning a conference and meeting.

Do you want to make your 2020 events more conscious and mindful whilst not compromising on the engagement, fun and impact?

Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!

Facilitator Tips – The importance of asking good questions

Facilitator Tips – The importance of asking good questions

Asking good questions as a facilitator

As we examine the role of a facilitator and impart our advise and guidance we have so far…

Covered some top tips for you to consider

Looked at YOU and ensuring you are confident in your own style.

Talked in depth about making sure the audience/group are the main event, not you.

And this week we look at the importance of asking good questions. This links well with last week’s article. If you’re asking good questions, then the group will be engaged, committed and happy to answer anything that you might throw at them….well, not anything!


You can and should prepare questions before the event, but often things will change in the moment so you have to be flexible and ready with the right approach rather than a set pre-prepared script.

Actually, it really is a mindset. Are you asking open questions that elicit a response?

  • What are the sorts of question that will prompt discussion?
  • Will your question push the momentum along?

So what do we mean by ‘good questions’ and why are they important?

The session will have a purpose or as we like to call it a ‘super objective’.

This phrase comes from our old world of the theatre where the great Russian acting teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky encouraged his actors to know the super objective of each character which then was split into smaller objectives. It’s from where we get the old joke, ‘what’s my motivation?’ But the thinking is sound and still works here as a facilitator.

Everything that we are doing in the session should ultimately be in support of this goal. If it’s to gain more clarity then shape your questions around that. If it’s to ensure leaders know what is expected during transformation then frame your questions to support that goal.

Not only will it focus the session but you’ll also be ready in a couple of weeks to play Konstantin in Chekov’s the Seagull. 😊

Purple Monster has a background in the theatre. This often means that we are naturally curious. You need this when looking for those good questions.

Curiosity is perhaps a more useful skill for the facilitator than creativity because by simply opening up your mind to the possibility of a new, different or tangential approach will provoke different thoughts in your delegates. And those thoughts can come from anywhere, if you’re looking out for them. Wildly creative and esoteric ideas might not be the best way in for everyone.

Remember it’s your job to ensure all questions and conversations are supporting the end goal. Simply asking delegates how they feel about the topic/change might only touch the surface. If you are not asking good quality questions when you have committed to a facilitated session, then you might have simply sent a questionnaire.

Your questions need to provoke a different train of thought.

  • Get the audience to explore their own preconceived thoughts and feelings. Get them to discuss it privately in small groups and ask them to précis what they heard in their small groups. Reportage of your groups’ thinking is much less personally exposing than being asked to articulate your own thoughts in front of any group.


  • Stretch them to consider things in different ways. Ask one group to start discussing a subject and note down their thoughts around it. Then ask the next group to visit the first groups’ output and question and add to their initial work.


  • Push them all to contribute. Some people may be quiet but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion. Ensure you are always asking individuals their thoughts. It’s tempting to listen to the first, perhaps most forthright opinion, but quieter people may need your help in being able to share their thoughts too.

We can’t list here ‘great’ questions. You have to work that one out for yourself, but ensuring that you are in service of the super-objective and including everyone in the room while at the same time retaining your own sense of humour and authenticity will take you a long way when facilitating any session.

The last word perhaps should be left with the great Russian playwright Anton Chekov who perhaps had the best answer to the ultimate question, ‘What is life?’.

“You ask what is life? That is the same as asking what is a carrot? A carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more”.

Good luck!

Facilitator Tips – Developing your own style

Facilitator Tips – Developing your own style

Developing your own style of facilitation


This article looks more closely at YOU. That’s right! It’s you I’m talking about.

We are going to start thinking about how you develop your own facilitation style. One that you feel comfortable delivering and one where you are confident in being your authentic self.

Being confident makes a significant difference to your success as a facilitator. Not everyone has natural confidence especially when faced with an expectant room of delegates, so here we share with you some practical ways you can help to increase your confidence when it comes to facilitating a group of people.

Confidence is a very precious commodity and it can visit us and leave us without knowing and at the most inopportune moments. So how can we mitigate against those losses of confidence by understanding better what makes us feel ‘in flow’ and ‘on our game’?

Confidence comes from a combination of experience and understanding. It is very hard to stand in front of an established group of people, often subject matter experts themselves, if you don’t have the necessary understanding of your subject.

Any inkling that you are ‘busking’ it or you haven’t done the preparation will undermine your integrity as a facilitator. You may not have the experience of course which is a hurdle to overcome but by ensuring you are well prepared, you are at least halfway to ensuring that you can speak with authority.

You can only gain experience by doing and so making sure you take every opportunity to test out your skills will incrementally improve the experience part of the equation until you are equal with knowledge and experience and are now operating more confidently.


How to build your confidence

As a facilitator you are not expected to be, nor should pretend to be, the subject matter expert.

A level of content and audience understanding though will help to give you some context for what you are doing and why. By asking informed questions, provoking interesting discussion and gently keeping the session on track and on message will allow you to keep the session under control helping you to build rapport more effectively with the audience.

Take time before the session to research and prepare which will build this understanding.


Be Practical

Walk around the space you’ll be working in. Be familiar with it.
Test your voice in the space, do you need a microphone?
Check the technology. Each room is different. Leave time to ensure your laptop works, you have the correct leads and your slides can be seen
If you need sound, make sure you have back up speakers if the on site av lets you down
Make sure all those technical gremlins are tucked away and you have tested the tech, the slides and all support materials.



NEVER turn up on the day and it be the first time you have said the words you have prepared. In your head you sounded great right? And of course, there are those who do think they have the ability to wing it, but we strongly recommend you don’t follow this route.

Practise your key points. Say them out loud. In the office, meeting room, your kitchen! It doesn’t matter where, just put the words out there. You might find it useful to record yourself on your phone. Listen back and really hear yourself. What tone works best? Which words need more impact? This preparation work is crucial to your success and confidence.


Your inner voice

Look out for this little devil. Your own internal monologue can undermine yourself if you let the doubts creep in. You can have done all the prep brilliantly, but then a voice inside your head starts to freak out! Alan advises to remind yourself that nervous symptoms are the same as excited. Telling yourself you are excited can fool yourself into forgetting the nerves, which, by the way, are totally natural to have. If you’re not a little bit nervous then perhaps you might be approaching it all a little too casually.


Reading the room

Last week we advised you not to try and be someone you’re not. Just because you saw a facilitator make loads of jokes, does not mean you should do the same. Equally if you know yourself to be a more serious type, you might like to find some light-hearted moments throughout the day. This is where a very big part of your skill as a facilitator has to come into play. You should always be on the lookout for what is happening in the room. Is your style appropriate for the group that you have?


  • Are people engaged?
  • Do these people need a break?
  • Is somebody being very quiet?
  • Is somebody dominating all the conversation?
  • Does it need another voice in the room?
  • Do you need to change the state or atmosphere within the room?

You will need to keep your eyes and ears open throughout your session to ensure all of the above are being monitored. Keep your radar open at all times and dial up your own levels of EQ. The role of the facilitator is to keep the group focused. Allowing them to voice their opinions without going completely off piste. The focus must be on the group! Not you.

Ensuring that you have prepared well and made sure the content, approach and tone of the session all match will increase your levels of confidence and will go a long way to running a successful session.

And one last piece of advice…give yourself the odd day off. All that nervous energy and ensuring you’re keeping everyone engaged is a long old day. You’ll sleep well if you’ve done a good job.

Good luck!

Do you want some exercises to help in your facilitation efforts? Download exercise instructions here:

Being a facilitator rather than a presenter

Being a facilitator rather than a presenter

Being a facilitator rather than a presenter.

Last week we spoke about the steps needed to be a more effective facilitator. So this week we are going to consider how you can include everyone in your session and ensure that every voice is heard equally and without prejudice.




Whilst it’s easy to talk about inclusivity during conferences, workshops, meetings and so on, it actually takes more deliberate effort than you might think to be able to call any session genuinely inclusive.

To be able to include people in discussion, encourage them to talk and contribute requires more than a happy accident. It requires deliberate and focused intent and a small helping of daring.
We hear so often the phrase ‘death by powerpoint’ but it isn’t ever the technology that’s at fault…it’s always the speaker, and more accurately the intent behind what the speaker is saying. If you wish to genuinely engage people then you have to plan with that intent. You must create time and space for voices other than your own. If the main presentation option seems only to be you talking at the audience, it may be worth considering the following possibilities:

  • The audience talking to you
  • The audience talking to each other
  • Individual members of the audience addressing the rest of the audience, instead of you

You also need to create meaning and a reason to connect. It’s lazy to assume that what you have written as your topic is sufficient on its own to provoke meaningful interaction and discussion. Instead, consider exactly what it is about your talk or presentation that would have real resonance for your audience and would make them want to interject or answer any question that you might pose to them. This also means that you have to know the answer, or at least part of an answer, to this question:

Who is the audience and what is the context in which they are listening to this talk?

Do you know something about their opinions, their attitudes and their historical circumstances? If you don’t, make sure that you take the time to read up and find out. If that’s not available to you, then ask them directly. If you know very little or have no time to find out beforehand then follow these simple golden rules:

  • Be bothered
  • Be interested
  • Be curious
  • Connect

Just the term, ‘speaker’ is dangerous and misleading because it implies that this is all that is necessary to engage and include an audience, but it clearly isn’t. What’s most important is the need to listen and show that you’re listening.

Your eye contact and body language will always show people whether you’re interested and listening to them or whether, I’m afraid, you are just self-absorbed.

So finally a short story, because it wouldn’t be one of our articles without at least one story.

“Yesterday, on the aeroplane, a gentleman was helped to his seat by a member of the cabin crew and was seated next to us as he folded up his white stick. He immediately made contact with Robin and I (Alan) and told us a little about why he was visiting Valencia. It transpired that he was a big fan of Moto GP and was taking a trip to meet some of the riders and teams who had been in Valencia this past weekend as part of the final race of the season. He told us a great deal about his life and the challenges of being at first partially sighted and now, totally blind.

He also announced with some pride that he was a ‘talker’. And he was!

Subsequently we learnt a great deal more about his life in Lancaster as a young boy, his working life with HM Treasury and his eventual retirement. He also shared one of his most profound insights which was when his sister revealed to him that he was a serial complainer and everyone else in his life was beginning to get very tired of it. So he changed his behavior, stopped complaining and tried harder to appreciate the things around him. This initially made him approachable and good company.

However, although he is a good talker, he is I’m afraid a terrible listener and after about 60 minutes, we suggested that we perhaps could halt our conversation for a while and catch up again after a small snooze. He immediately took the hint and proceeded to speak to the gentleman on the other side of the aisle for the rest of the flight.”

Sometimes being inclusive requires you to tell people that enough is enough and it’s time for someone else to take their turn.

This could very well apply to us all in our role as a facilitator, by the way. Those that don’t either feel confident to speak or don’t feel what they have to say has sufficient merit or are just too polite to interrupt anyone else deserve their opportunity to speak too.
In short, leave space, leave time, leave room, try and leave your ego at the door and above all else, be a generous listener which will go a long way to making you a more inclusive facilitator.

Do you want some exercises to help in your facilitation efforts? Download exercise instructions here: