Most of my workshops are generally with people who are not used to doing lots of participatory group work, and don’t spend their entire day thinking mostly about the best way to engage and motivate each other.  That is in part why I’m there in the first place, to help them work better together! So there’s always that slight fear when you are facilitating or training a group of people who do spend their days thinking about it. The other people that do what I do. Or at the very least something similar.

There is that fear that you will say something wrong when you are standing up in front of those “in the know” and there’s that feeling that they may be internally rolling their eyes in horror in some way. What if I talk about my experience of using a certain tool and find out that they wrote the book about it? What if I do something that I consider quite innovative and they’ve seen it all before?

Actually, to be fair my biggest fear by far was boring them all.

I had no idea who knew what when I designed and delivered my chosen topic “Harnessing the Power of the Group” a few weeks ago. I did this at the Saltbox Trainers Exchange which despite not really knowing who was going to be in the audience, turned out to be a most fun filled Friday indeed.

I was up first which meant I could relax and enjoy the other training sessions later in the day. Apart from introductions at the start I had no real clue who any of the participants were and was faced with the potential of hundreds of years of collective training and facilitation experience right there in front of me. Minor exaggerations aside there were indeed some very experienced people in the room. But there were also some quite new to their roles. And some who knew lots about training, but less about facilitation. So  I needn’t have worried.

My session seemed to get everyone asking questions and generally talking about various experiences of facilitation. And everyone shared what they thought facilitation meant to them:


There were no yawns and no one walked out. Mission (in part) accomplished! We started the semblance of a plan for a short holiday using the ICA consensus building technique and I included some information about World Cafe, Graphic Facilitation and Open Space technology – it was pretty packed! In the true spirit of a trainers “exchange” I have now got some information that might help me with my belief that I can’t draw, in the form of Graphics Made Easy as recommended by one of the participants. It might be just what I need.

It was fabulous to spend the day with so many like minded people all interested in training and facilitation and the collective energy of lots of people who love to participate was all rather exciting. I took a lot away with me from the day not least some aching stomach muscles from laughing so much during a Playful being session. While my hour long session touched the edges of working with groups, by the end of the day the full participation in swing, the group was definitely full of its own power and all being nicely channelled in a very positive direction indeed.

What do you love about participation?


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