Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – The Summary

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – The Summary

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events

The Summary

2020 is now well underway.

With January now behind us, we creep ever closer to Spring and the re-emergence of those old favourites that we welcome every year.

That’s right, the predictions for what people are talking about in 2020 and what we at Purple Monster are concentrating on this year when designing events and conferences.

Over the last 4 weeks we’ve covered:

The environment and global concerns.
The pull for life-long learning
Consideration of diversity, equity and inclusion as authentic subject matter.
The desire to put physical and mental health on the agenda.

This week we give you the highlights of all these topics.

Giving you the opportunity to consolidate everything we’ve said and, as a bonus, you don’t have to read the other four articles. 😊

Here are the headlines…

 

Environmental sustainability

Everything that occurs in large-scale events has an environmental as well as a financial impact. With a more conscious approach to the planning of your conferences you can make huge reductions in those environmental and budgetary costs, with little or no visible effect on the delegate experience.

Our top tips

1. Take active steps to promote responsible transport options.

Ways you can reduce this impact:

  • Use systems to calculate the ideal location minimising 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?
  • And finally – avoid people travelling at all – it is now possible to create highly engaging and interactive virtual events.

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

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.

  • 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?

10 years ago recycling was not that widespread but it is common practice now. So we can do it. Think about it next time you are planning a conference and meeting.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

We talked about the inequities we’ve all grown up with, and how despite our best intentions ‘to be good’ 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.

Our top tips

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

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

  • Have you consciously considered who should be on your panel?
  • Are various levels of the organisation represented?
  • Are you hearing from your suppliers, partners and customers?

2. Be mindful about designing sessions that include everyone

Consider the less than obvious:

  • How far are the distances between sessions?
  • Is there good access for people with mobility issues?
  • Are icebreaker sessions considerate of the introverted?

3. Food is important – Remember to respect peoples’ choices around diet.

  • 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

 

Physical and mental health

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.

Our top tips

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

  • 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.
  • 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)

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 and TED talks. Think about Including these in your conference design; Either share links to them or base your actual sessions around them.

Lifelong learning

In our article we looked at the difference between training and learning.

Highlighting these key points.

  • Training is normally short-term and focussed on a specific goal
  • Learning is much more long term and the goals far reaching
  • Training is either a skill or information presented to a student to understand and practice
  • Learning is more about self-discovery than copying or repetition
  • Training normally focusses on improving understanding and skills required for your role
  • Learning is much more about understanding yourself as a person
  • Training programmes are often group orientated
  • Learning is a personalized experience
  • The article was not designed to decry training and trainers. They play a crucial role in maintaining and improving organizational and individual capability.

On the contrary, we are certain that the best way to facilitate learning is to have committed and passionate teachers and trainers, but to go beyond the immediate knowledge and skills requirement and look holistically at the development of the individual.

So this year when you are thinking about your next meeting or your next workshop or conference, consider how much time you are able to dedicate to your delegates’ learning.

  • Allow plenty of time for reflection, after any session. The temptation will be to move onto the next piece of content rather than allow people the time to reflect on what they have just heard or experienced.
  • Ensure that your agenda includes experiential sessions where your delegates can feel what it is like to experience the shift in mindset. Yes, the content is important but how people react and respond is where the learning happens.
  • Be open to change. It’s the surest way we can think of to ensure you might learn something new.

So, there you have it; our BIG items to consider when planning your meetings and conferences this year.

  • Challenge your own thinking
  • Consider if you can shake things up a little
  • Make it about the attendee not about the content.

And if you need a little nudge in a more creative direction, please give us a call.

Good luck!

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



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Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Lifelong Learning

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

 

This month we’ve been focussing on subjects that we believe will be at the forefront of peoples’ minds this year and beyond. So far, we’ve covered: 

  • The environment and global concerns.  

  • How diversity, equity and inclusion is the way forward for fair-minded companies 

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

 

 

 

This week we are looking at… learning. 

 

  • When did you leave school? 

  • When did you finish university? 

  • When did you complete your masters? 

  • When did you stop learning? 

Let’s just think about those four questions again for a moment… here comes an entirely unscientific but factual survey:

Researcher: ‘Excuse me venerable and esteemed colleague could you answer some questions about learning please?

Me: ‘Of course, I’m always keen to help organisations find out about learning and its usefulness. And by the way what a politely worded question?’   

Researcher: ‘Just answer the question.’ 

Me: ‘Yes of course. Shall I ask my family members too?’ 

Researcher: ‘People won’t believe this exchange’ 

Me: ‘Perhaps we should stop it and show an interesting table….’ 

Ok it’s not a terribly meaningful piece of research but I bet you also have the same answer to the question in column 4. Of course, we never stop learning. We may not have been the best at school, we may never have been top of the class, we might not have a masters degree or any sort of qualifications for that matter, but does that mean we are incapable of learning? Of course not.  

In a recent interview, the performance coach and Mindset expert Dr Maurice Duffy was quoted as saying, ‘There is no such thing as failure. Only winning and learning’. I’m sure that’s an easy thing to say and to an extent it’s a relatively easy thing to understand and to teach. But when you consider that this advice was given to a world class sports professional who had recently been banned for unsportsmanlike behaviour and was attempting a comeback at the highest level, then perhaps we’d better listen to his advice. 

    When we first set up as a company in 1995 we were known as an experiential training company. In fact, we were called Purple Monster Training. In about 2006 we dropped the word ‘training’, not because ‘training’ isn’t valuable, it is, but because we worked out that what we now did wasn’t really training at all, but more like lifelong learning.  

    When we first set up as a company in 1995 we were known as an experiential training company. In fact, we were called Purple Monster Training. In about 2006 we dropped the word ‘training’, not because ‘training’ isn’t valuable, it is, but because we worked out that what we now did wasn’t really training at all, but more like lifelong learning.  

    So what is the difference between learning and training? 

    Training is normally short-term and focussed on a specific goal 

    Learning is much more long term and the goals far reaching  

    Training is either a skill or information presented to a student to understand and practice 

    Learning is more about self-discovery than copying or repetition 

    Training normally focusses on improving understanding and skills required for your role 

    Learning is much more about understanding yourself as a person 

    Training programmes are often group orientated 

    Learning is a personalized experience 

    Both are important and have a place in the corporate curriculum, whatever your role or seniority. In our experience, learning departments have ambitious goals and targets, which cover a whole host of development topics.  It may be the organization is looking to improve engagement, increase productivity; focus on agile working or building a more adaptable workforce prepared to undertake more individual responsibility.  Whatever the ask of the business, these are not topics that can be achieved through training alone. Most of the challenge is around personal attitudes and behaviour, mindset if you will, and the levers for creating sustainable and meaningful change lie more in individual learning and development, rather than only training for new tools. 

    So this year when you are thinking about your next meeting or your next workshop or conference, consider how much time you are able to dedicate to your delegates’ learning. 

    • Allow plenty of time for reflection, after any session. The temptation will be to move onto the next piece of content rather than allow people the time to reflect on what they have just heard or experienced.  

    • Ensure that your agenda includes experiential sessions where your delegates can feel what it is like to experience the shift in mindset. Yes, the content is important but how people react and respond is where the learning happens. 

    • Create sessions that might provide a little discomfort. Don’t let colleagues work only in their comfort zones but look for stretch and challenge. Don’t introduce panic or worry your colleagues unnecessarily but do stretch them.  
    • Be open to change. It’s the surest way we can think of to ensure you might learn something new. 

    This article is not designed to decry training and trainers. They play a crucial role in maintaining and improving organizational and individual capability. On the contrary, we are certain that the best way to facilitate learning is to have committed and passionate teachers and trainers, but to go beyond the immediate knowledge and skills requirement and look holistically at the development of the individual.  Inspiring teachers make a difference to all of us and those that can inspire us to follow a path of lifelong learning are to be most admired.  Training can sometimes feel like something we have to do and sits very much in the here and now. We need to get up to speed with this application and this system and we have to achieve this before such and such a date.  By comparison, learning is about developing fully rounded humans and especially those with the capacity to adapt and learn whatever the workplace of the future may bring.   

    One of the most popular and one of our favourite TED talks is Sir Ken Robinson’s talk ‘Do Schools kill creativity?’. Remind yourself of it again if you have a spare 18 minutes. Apart from anything else he is genuinely funny and his talk challenges our thinking around how we learn and why working only in a linear and narrow field of topics, kills our creativity and capacity to learn and adapt in adulthood.  

    And to close, here’s another very recent quote from Dr Duffy. And dare we suggest something a little cheeky? When you read this quote, then substitute the words ‘educational system’ for ‘corporate organisations’ and the word ‘kids’ for ‘colleagues’.  

    ‘Our kids deserve a better future. Our educational system is giving us skills for yesterday. Now we must focus on Friendships, Mental Health, Innovation and Creativity’. 

    Wow. That’s a whole other article.  

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



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    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!



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    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.

     

    Rehearse

    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:



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    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:



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    Guiding Conversations – Our facilitation series

    Guiding Conversations – Our facilitation series

    Top tips for you as a facilitator

    Guiding conversations, offering provocative thought and ultimately helping groups of people get to a better result are all key elements of strong facilitation.

    At Purple Monster we like to facilitate meetings in a certain way and that takes a lot of experience, a little bit of knowledge and a good dose of self-deprecatory humour, but what are the nuts and bolts of good facilitation?

    A few months ago we came upon a concept called Pecha Kucha.

    It is a storytelling format, where a presenter shows 20 slides for 20 seconds of commentary each (6 minutes and 40 seconds total).We found it entertaining and informative and respectfully suggest checking out the closest one to where you are as it’s a fun evening.

    After seeing it Alan thought it would be good to put our methodology through the Pecha Kucha process and so this article summarises a talk that Alan recently completed and delivered in 6 minutes 40 seconds. (amazing in itself!)

    You can listen to the talk here

    The job of a facilitator is to run meetings or events and to make them as effective and efficient as possible. 

    This isn’t simply about sticking to the agenda or watching the time; it’s about knowing when to allow conversations to carry on and when to stop them, it’s about understanding the dynamics and reacting appropriately to them, it’s about noticing the subtleties in team dynamics or relationships and ensuring they don’t disrupt or take over. This all sounds very complicated and nuanced, and it is.

     

    In Alan’s talk he summarises some key tips to help anyone improve their skill levels as a facilitator. Here are the key points he shares…

    1. Confidence

    For some people, standing in front of a room of people can be very difficult.  Not for Alan, his background is as a performer but even he has stories of not preparing properly and subsequently losing his confidence.  Proper preparation builds confidence. Make sure you know the agenda, the content and what is expected of you. Even when we are facilitating a seemingly straightforward meeting, clients are often amazed at how much we want to understand about the strategy, the team, the people involved. This is all so that we can be confident in our ability to deliver what is required.

    2. Check the space

    Make sure you know where you are!  Visit the space you’ll be working in beforehand, or at least get there early to walk around it.  Consider how the space will be set out, is theatre style really going to help you run an interactive session? If no, then change it well ahead of the start. Understand where you will be and how that will help you both see and hear what is going on around the room so you can listen and react effectively.

    3. Check the space inside your head

    People are going to looking to you for guidance, that is the job of the facilitator so you need to ensure you are in the right headspace. Being prepared and confident will help but also ensure you give yourself time to centre yourself in the room and be present. Simon Sinek says nervous symptoms are the same as excitement.  If you tell yourself that you’re feeling excited then you’re halfway to fooling yourself that you are  excited and not nervous.

    4. Participation

    This is crucial in facilitation.  It’s not a show!  A good facilitator will encourage the group to participate.  A monologue of opinions or facts is not facilitation. How is your style helping to get stuff out of people rather than pushing stuff into them? Remember, this event is not about you it is about the participants and getting them to a better end result. Constantly ensuring that their voices are in the room is key. 

    5. Inclusion

    If you want the whole group to be with you, make sure you include everybody.  Don’t be selective.  You must coax the quieter members of the group to contribute but in a safe and friendly way.  Give them means to express themselves and have their voice heard.  That could be asking them to write down their opinions, rather than putting them on the spot to shout them out for all to hear.  

    6. Listen

    Listen before, during and after.  Don’t miss any of it!  What are people saying before the session starts?  Do they have expectations?  What are they?  During the session, play back what you hear, this encourages inclusivity and will bring the group together as well as help summarise what has been discussed.  Listen afterwards too, feedback is important both for you as a facilitator but also where the group might need further support.

    7. Spontaneity

    Our style is very spontaneous.  Yours might not be.  However, being flexible is critical.  Taking the conversation where the group wants it to go is very important.  This brings us back to inclusion.  Of course, it’s also your job to know when to bring the conversation back to the point in hand. There is a balance between letting a conversation carry on if it is moving the discussion forward but also knowing when to stop it if it is not helping.

    8. Humour

    Again this will flex depending on your personality.  At Purple Monster we do enjoy a laugh but use humour wisely. It should never be at the expense of anyone but used as a technique to help people feel relaxed and comfortable so that they are able and willing to contribute and talk openly.

    9. Know the audience

    Research who you’re talking to and their current context. Understanding job roles and hierarchy is helpful but also what are their reasons for being there? Are they volunteers or has attendance been mandated? Is engagement high or tragically low with this group and why is that the case? What are the relationships like within the group – with the leader for example? All of this information will help you prepare and set the tone appropriately.

    Really the secret is being there for the audience. Your job is to facilitate, literally make things easier. If you keep in mind that your sole focus is on ensuring that the meeting is productive, respectful and enjoyable then you have done a good job.

    And most importantly don’t try to be something that you’re not. If you are quiet and thoughtful then be aware that quiet and thoughtful might be a nice style, but you may have to practise being direct and provide some direction. If your style is more extroverted then you will similarly have to note when to tone that down and play the quiet card.

    Think of your audience, drink plenty of water and don’t let things go longer than a couple of hours before you have a break. And whilst we know that this is not heavy manual lifting and physically challenging work, it’s important to look after yourself because it’s tiring. Wear good shoes, your feet will thank you for it.

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



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