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Facilitation Stories


Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by the England and Wales chapter of the IAF. For more information on our chapter, visit www.iaf-world.org/site/chapters/england-wales

Back to the Room

Oct 30, 2021

With many people returning to face-to-face facilitation after months sat staring at a Zoom screen, we thought we’d share some of our top tips. Thanks to Gary, Helene, Suzanne, Camilla, Cat, Lee and Hilary from the IAF England and Wales Leadership Team for these great tips and to Suzanne for pulling it all together.

Equipment and stationary 

Give everyone an unopened, still wrapped pack of their own post-its. Use wipes to clean sharpies or give out new sharpies/markers.

Covid safe venues and events

Check whether the venue has its own Covid safe plan.Use every other seat.If at all possible open windows and leave doors open.Ask the venue/client to send you a photo or video of the room ahead of the event, check you are happy with the amount of space and ventilation (and wall space for sticky walls!).

  • Check venues covid policies for catering. Some venues are offering individually packaged lunches - but this is affecting cost.
  • Book a room bigger than you need (again cost implication so making sure people are aware of the budget implications).
  • Ask everyone to do a LFT the day before, and not to attend if they are feeling unwell.

Communication with participants

  • Send a link to the venue and directions and a screen shot of the map to help orientate people who may be visiting the location or travelling for the first time in ages.
  • Share a picture or video of the space you will be using and let people know about any venue covid restrictions in advance.
  • Check with all participants to see how they feel about being in-person - ask participants if they have any additional requirements - access, needing to be sat by a window/door, compulsory facemasks etc.

Contingency planning 

  • Agree with the client the bottom line - when does it get cancelled/postponed and what would happen if you as the facilitator can't be there because of Covid - who will step in, what’s the contingency plan? Consider working with a co-facilitator who could step in if you can’t make it.
  • Agree if you will allow people to join in remotely, and if so how.
  • Check your own insurance.
  • Send some exercises/ materials in advance so participants can do some work even if the event doesn't take place.

Hybrid meetings and people joining remotely

Hybrid meetings take careful and detailed planning - that’s a topic for another blog!

But if you do have people joining an in person meeting remotely check your tech set up - you will need a decent web cam and microphone. iPads make good portable screens for participants joining by Zoom, especially to allow them to see up-close activities like LEGO.

Think about what you are willing to provide for people joining remotely - are they just able to ‘listen in’, are you expecting them to be able to join in with all the discussions? If you want the meeting to be inclusive of everyone, and some people can only join remotely, consider holding the whole event online instead.

And finally

  • Take plenty of snacks - face-to-face is exhausting - chocolate is a must!
  • Check your pens still work!
  • Give yourself (extra) time and be gentle with yourself.

What are we missing in this post? Anything that YOU've learned recently?