As people return to in-person gatherings, I’m hearing variations of, “It doesn’t matter what we do. We just need to be together.”
That feeling strongly resonates with me, but as a facilitator I am still curious what we’ll actually do. Here are a few considerations I’m applying to my workshop designs:
- Make in-person far better than digital. If people are bothering to travel, with all of the logistics, risk and investment that requires, make in-person attendance really worth their while. The event should be memorable and fun, designed to focus on elements that digital participation simply cannot replicate. Hosting a Zoom-like business meeting in person will no longer cut it.
- Avoid generic venues. If we are expected to put up with the hassles of travel, we don’t want to land in a soulless meeting room. Leverage being off-site to be inspired by the setting itself.
- Create spaciousness in the agenda. There is no need for it to be crammed or rushed. Conversations and transitions will take longer than they do online. Plan for breathing space — people aren’t looking to be over-managed. (If focused productivity is your critical need, it may be better to stay online…)
- Build in choice. Just as in the deepest troughs of the pandemic, people’s experiences now are highly variable. They will come with different risk tolerances. The return to peopling can be exhausting. Small doses of intense interaction and shorter/fewer “command performances,” with lots of discretionary time around them, will demonstrate that you are attuned to the needs of your group.
- Don’t snap back into old patterns, but instead be intentional about setting new habits of collaboration. Our context has changed and so have we — we would be wise to co-create new rhythms rather than assuming that our old ones will still fit.
- Celebrate! These have been a long couple of years, and we need to notice collectively what people have been through and create rituals of celebration to mark the occasion of regathering.
Enjoy seeing your people!
I appreciate this shoutout from Matt Church as we figure out thoughtful ways to regather. Matt’s work has made my work better in countless ways over the past five years and I’m grateful to be able to return the favour, at least in part.