Blog > Learning facilitation – what’s significant? part 2

December 11, 2007

I’d just opened space. About 60 or so people were sitting in, not really a circle, more an amoeba. They’d done well, considering. Pillars and curves in an oblong room was not really conducive to creating a nice neat circle. No matter. They’d just sat through a tedious powerpoint presentation so I guess they were pleased to be doing something physical – moving their chairs from the traditional theater style set up to this ‘circle’.

There were three sessions, topics were posted on the wall. People were milling around – some not sure what to do next, others grabbing the chance for a cuppa, others talking about…WHOOP – WHOOP – WHOOP. The siren couldn’t be ignored. It was a fire drill and the whole building – all 20+ floors were to be evacuated. About an hour later we wandered back into the building and took up where we’d left off.

Open Space is like that – it can even accommodate fire drills and I’m pretty sure those folk standing around on the footpath in the cold wind took the opportunity to chat to one-another. Whether it was about the topic or not is irrelevant – they had a shared experience and were connecting. I can imagine future meetings:

“Hi – I remember you”

“Me too.”

“Weren’t you at that workshop with the fire drill – the one where we were allowed to talk with each other.”

“Yeah, that was a bit different.”

So what did I learn as a facilitator?

Hold space – be present – be flexible – trust (especially them) – allow conversations to flow – do nothing more.

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