Have you had your personal check-in with meeting face-to-face already? I had mine last week.
After 2,5 years of meeting and collaborating exclusively online I led my first 2-days in-person workshop. That was a gentle restart with a small fine group of 12 co-facilitators ready and keen to learn about the art of facilitation and workshop design. Teamwork with my counterpart was wonderful. The staff at the venue was pleased to accommodate us and have the house full of life.
It was a rich experience. And yes, meeting in person is different from meeting online – it is all about eating brownies together that is what I blogged recently.
It is time now to share some observations form this experience with you:
This in-person gathering was marked by spaciousness. We had space and time.
We had the luxury to gather in a room so big we could dance (if that would have been the plan). This allowed the group to be in movement while thinking and talking, to play with embodiment and positioning (sure that is also possible online, yet it is different). We had inputs on the floor, and conversations around flipcharts. The group included the gardens for a stroll and some more personal reflections with a buddy.
I was not glued to my desk and screen. This freedom to move was liberating and refreshing.
We had time.
Two full days.
My counterpart and I were courageous and left things out to have even more headspace and time for being in conversation and sharing experiences, questions and challenges.
Giving the group time allowed all of us to slow down, to focus, to dig deeper in our joint thinking.
Through being physically in the same room together, the groan zone became tangible at the end of day one. For some it was light and gentle, for others the confusion went deeper and the need to reflect was bigger.
Depth is good. But so is length.Rob Poynton
We had a night between the two parts of our workshop. This precious in-between time served three purposes:
- Letting insights sink in and digest the learning.
- Connecting humanly with each other over a cup of tea, an evening stroll, or an early morning walk.
- Involving our group of co-facilitators (they were more than participants!) in preparing discussions and leading sessions.
Being united with a group of co-facilitators somewhere else than their usual office environment created a shared context for all of us. We were all ‘displaced’, as Priya Parker would call it. That was an intense experience after 2.5 years of working from home.
Displacement is simply about breaking people out of their habits. It is about waking people up from the slumber of their own routines. Priya Parker in The Art of Gathering
Being somewhere else created distance. The venue was a nudge for thinking differently and creatively. The group of co-facilitators opened up and went beyond the usual approaches of how meetings and workshops are organized. This freedom to think boldly was definitely supported by our venue.
When a place embodies an idea, it brings a person’s body and whole being into the experience, not only their minds. Priya Parker in The Art of Gathering
Being displaced had on me the welcoming effect of being away. I enjoyed having one focus, this workshop, and nothing else. Excluding other stuff felt light and fine.
One more thing. I carried less stuff. I’m less attached to flipcharts, post-it notes, and other materials. At the same time, I pay more attention and emphasis to framing my welcome and introduction words carefully.
I wonder, maybe I’ve become more verbal? I this a result of facilitating online?
Being online invited me to simplify. I am not a ‘techy’ online facilitator using plenty of supportive apps. I facilitate the simple way. People in conversation is my ambition (and for this I needed little more than the videoconferencing platform with webcam and chat and a Google slide deck)
Now I am definitely curious about your experiences of facilitating in-the-room again after the long Covid related break? How is it for you?
Some places are still open for the next round of Bringing your Online Meetings & Workshops Alive starting on Tuesday May 3.
Online Meetings: Interactive & Creative with Liberating Structures. A 2 hours online session sparked with ideas and tools for more lively and engaging online meetings taking place on Thursday 5th of May.
Truly inviting invitations. A joint exploration on May 9th from 13:30 – 15:30 CEST. Join if you agree that meeting and workshop invitations are important door openers to create engagement before the meeting or workshop even starts.
Liberating Structures online immersion workshop, November 3&4 and 24&25, 2022. Join the silent revolution set in motion by Liberating Structures.