Set the Tone

I’m going to break one of my cardinal rules of facilitation right off the top: don’t remind a group of all they’ve lost. Avoid any variant of, “If we were meeting in person, we would…” or “If only we were together, we’d be able to…”  Instead, leverage what you do have and can do. It keeps the energy positive and allows our attention to move to a more generative place.

But let me just say: don’t you miss variety in our venues?

Choosing where we meet is a creative planning variable that affects the outcome of a meeting or workshop. I promise you that hosting a session about food security on a farm will give you different results than if you host it in a non-descript board room or on a screen.

So there it is: I miss meeting in different locations.

So far, my attempts to disrupt our feeling of locational sameness have fallen short. Choosing a different virtual background on Zoom might be moderately fun, but mostly it just reminds me of what we’re missing. A collective sigh is not the vibe I’m going after.

Which is why I was so disproportionately excited by the space that was created for the Never Done Before Facilitation Festival last week. Myriam Hadnes, Shayne Smart and many others created a digital space that I wanted to explore. They used a tool I know (i.e. Mural) at a level I’d never seen. They set the stage for an experience that was both personalized and collective. Every detail had been attended to. They set a playful, creative, impressive tone well before the event began, and it carried over into the experience itself. People showed up energized. It felt like new day instead of Groundhog Day.

This morning where I live, we awoke to the first snowfall of the season:

I’m not generally a fan of winter, but what’s not to like about starting your day enveloped in a fresh blanket of snow? And in COVID, I carry no stress about winter driving. I could just enjoy the multiple snow sculptures we saw on our neighbours’ front yards on our morning walk. A new day.

Sometimes we set the vibe and sometimes it’s set for us.

Might there be opportunities for you to use familiar tools and settings in fresh ways this week? You just might gift yourself and your participants with a whole new perspective.

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