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Event design and facilitation

Why or when might you need a professional facilitator?

Sometimes it’s useful to have an external person to support your meetings, workshops or events, to enable you to have conversations that you don’t usually have – and it could be for a range of reasons. They might be tricky topics that will require careful navigation. They might be strategic conversations for which you need to step out of day-to-day operational thinking. They might gather together a number of people and stakeholders who haven’t worked together before. And/or you might need to convene the meeting but be mindful of power relationships, and not want to be the ones setting the agenda and steering the discussions.

These are some things good facilitation can achieve: ensuring diverse voices are heard / agreeing common goals and priorities / reaching for alignment between values / sharing and learning together / building reciprocal understanding and trust / collective problem-solving / generating buy-in for effective action.

I like to design and facilitate sessions that are:

  • Welcoming: being attentive to people’s experience from the moment we send the invitations
  • Inclusive and accessible: ensuring everyone who wants to, can take part fully
  • Comfortable and safe: creating the conditions for people to show up and speak up
  • Different and interesting: sessions that are imaginative and support creative thinking
  • Participative: inviting people to engage, and co-create their experience (you get out what you put in)
  • Relational: focused on connection, and building trust, understanding and relationships

What I actually do when I say “I design and facilitate”:

To start off I work with you to understand the context, participants and purpose, along with the desired outputs (tangible) and outcomes (intangible). This enables me to put together a structure and resources, using the most appropriate facilitation tools and methods, that will enable you to have the conversations that need to be had, in the time that you’ve got. I am sensitive to your audiences and to what will take them out of ‘business as usual’ to have more connected and creative conversations, but not so far out as to put them off! I will think of details including room layout and durations of breaks, table sizes and breakout spaces… and I will make sure the vibe is right for the outcomes and outputs that you need to achieve. I can advise on content for your pre- and post-event communications, so they set the tone, create interest, and are consistent with the session itself. I design for in-person, online, or hybrid spaces; while the same principles (of inclusion and enabling connection) apply, I select the relevant techniques that will be most effective in that environment.

On the day, I brief attendees about each activity and invite feedback and reflections. I also care for all the participants, monitor everyone’s wellbeing and engagement, deal with the unexpected, and defuse any friction to keep the group(s) moving through the flow of the event with respect, good humour and a steady hand.

I can facilitate up to 60 people solo (online or in person) if I’ve designed the session, and I can bring in trusted colleagues for hybrid delivery or larger events.