I was delighted to be invited by MAFN - the Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network tonight to present a webinar on facilitating large groups which is one of my favorite facilitation topics. (and yes, it can be done, if you were asking!)
It has been one of my missions over the years to bring more facilitation and interactivity into large conference and workshop settings, whether there are hundreds of participants or thousands. And to challenge traditional conference design assumptions about long panels and short Q&As (where only a few people get to talk, if any). All with the goal of avoiding this...
It was a wonderful group of facilitators who joined the webinar conversation tonight and added to and elaborated further, from their own experience, the tips and tricks for working with very large groups that I presented. I promised to pull together and link a few favourite blog posts that I've written over the years, many of which I used as the basis for my presentation.
I organised my talk into four areas:
1. Design Opportunities
- Why We're Using Ignites in Our Conference Workshop (also links to using Pecha Kuchas)
- Building Peer Learning Into Mega-Events and Conferences
- How to Start Conversations Among 8000 People
- What do Change and Strip Poker Have In Common? (This might seem a strange blog post to link, but I mentioned playing this game with 500+ women at a large conference - the "rules" of the game are in this post. They did it standing up at their seats, and picking a neighbour as a partner, and I walked them through the sequence from the stage, and I observed and use that in the debriefing, which I did myself after asking them a few questions about their own observations - worked beautifully!)
2. Preparing Yourself (including your Facilitators Toolkit)
- Taking care of yourself: Training for the Ironman: A Conference Worker's Guide
- Having the right equipment: "Conference Organizers Providing Everything"? Packing List for Team Facilitation (Just in Case)
- Venue Checklist: What You Want to Know Before You Go (I mentioned using checklists, this is one I find particularly useful for large conferences)
3. Leading Facilitation Teams
4. Once on Stage
- Lights, Camera, Action! Tips for Speaking and Facilitating on Big Stages (this includes a link to a video that shows an interactive large group facilitation - 900+)
I was happy to present my own learning and definitely took away a lot of great new ideas from the webinar! If you'd like to watch the webinar recording, MAFN has kindly provided the Adobe Connect link:
MAFN Webinar When Numbers Soar: Facilitating Large Groups
Thanks so much to my fellow Facilitators Michael Randel, to Dana Roberts and Fran Lowe for their help and great hosting! And a little blurb for MAFN - anyone can join the Mid-Atlantic Facilitator's Network, even if you are far from them geographically. They offer very interesting virtual learning opportunities through their webinar series, as well as a vibrant community of facilitators all happy to share their experiences!