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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 IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

Nov 4, 2019


Helene Jewell and Pilar Orti discuss The IAF conference (18th/19th October 2019 in Birmingham)
2 days and an evening which included: Human map, Client Panel Interviewing, Parallel Sessions, Open Space (inspired), Dine Around 
We hear from James at Session Lab @notjamessmart talking about the sessions he attended.
Some of Helene’s and Pilar’s highlights:
The panel interview – 3 clients from 3 different organisations, interviewed by Gary Austin with additional questions from the audience. It was great to hear from the panel and question them live. Lots of different aspects were discussed including not underselling the whole package of facilitation and the benefits of the pre and post work. 
The panel discussion was useful in terms of helping everyone to understand how to explain to clients who “don’t get it”. They were advocates for the profession. They also talked about co-creation by using an external and internal facilitator together. 
The human map – organised by Hilary Topp. A great way to show where participants at the conference came from and a good warm up exercise.
The session from Paul Brand and Andrew Chilvers– emphasising the facilitation skills you bring before the facilitation event and the importance of co-creation with the client. 
Justine Marchant’s session on internal dialogue and the discussions around the importance of understanding ourselves and the fact that imposter syndrome can still be present even if you are very experienced. 
Mary Robson’s session on co-facilitation – talking about viewing co-facilitation as a part of the process and not an add-on and how it can be included as an integral part of facilitation.
In between the sessions the conversations there were lots of great conversations to be had. During these, Emma Cragg (personal development coach) @ekcragg , suggested she could send a “microcast” , which you can listen to in this episode. 
Camilla Gordon’s session on her work with refugees in Calais. One of the things she discussed was about what a facilitator brings in and leaves behind in a session, and being a bit more conscious of this 
QUESTION TO LISTENERS: What do you bring into the session, what do you leave there and what do you take with you as a facilitator?
Pilar ran Podcasting for Advocacy and Self Development – started the session with something similar to the human map to gauge people’s experience and interest in podcasting. The session focused quite a bit on the podcasting process. 
Something to try out – taking notes by repeating what participants were saying by speaking into a phone that had a Google doc open. You can do this by using the microphone button instead of typing. Good to think about with respect to multi generational groups.
Open space inspired (run by Penny Walker)– really energising and full of generosity from people wanting to do different sessions. Different people got different things from the sessions. Open space is about having the conversations people need to have there and then. It was also a good time to not have conversations if that is what you needed and take some time out. The sessions were written up on a Pinpoint pinboard (brought along by Keith from Pinpoint Facilitation) 
The Wall of Wonder – put up by Gary Austin for participants to write up ideas, key phrases from the conference. 
At the end of the first day Helene and Kim Jones lead a wrap up session using iDeeter – asking people for their key learning and best moments. It was a nice quiet reflective time.
A genius moment at the end was the Dine Around organised by Lee Button. Lee chose 6 or so restaurants and booked tables in them so everyone could sign up to go to one of them. 
Organising the conference – the planning started in January and from this a gentle trickle of work. It felt quite organic and everyone seemed really invested in it, stepped into doing what was needed. The energy of working in a team was great and it was easy to tap into the meet up networks to find out who wanted to do sessions. The content was created by the community so everyone was sharing what they could put into it rather than focus on what they could get out of it. 
Please let us know your thoughts:
And go mad on Twitter! @IAFenglandwales @Fac-stories  @helenejewell  @pilarorti