4 weeks of practice

Posted by  GeoffBrown —April 14, 2011
Filed in Facilitation

Home at last!

It’s been a hectic 6 weeks. I have facilitated many workshops, hosted conversations, travelled many miles and, as always, improvised along the way.

Most of the workshops have been with 1 organisation and they involved an engagement process with community. The standout from this process was the teamwork and willingness to genuinely engage and learn – as often a sole facilitator comes in, performs and then leaves.

Staff from across the organization have contributed their time, passion and stories. The month long process has been a learning journey for all involved. Many staff have had opportunities to practice their presentation skills. Many others have learned to host conversations, ask questions and seek a deeper understanding their community partners.

It has been a joy to watch staff present stories – what they do in their work and why they do it. Their stories and slideshow presentations were created during a day of training with me before the engagement program kicked off. Viv McWaters and I created Insanely Great Slideshow Presentations (IGSP) to rid the world of ‘death by powerpoint’. Many of the 20+ presentations given across the 13 workshops were engaging, passionate, compelling and enjoyable.

I was very nervous about even having presentations as part of this engagement process. So often, the 1 way delivery of a traditional presentation undermines true engagement. But in this case, the presentations were relevant and supported the purpose of the engagement process. They set a context for the conversations that followed and over 90% of slides contained no words … simply beautiful images that supported their key messages.

During group conversations, dissent was encouraged and we asked meaningful, purposeful questions. I sensed that community members found the honesty and openness of the workshops a refreshing change.

Over 30 staff from this organization were actively involved in the engagement process. I am hopeful (and even a little confident) that a new story is being told within their office walls about community engagement. I feel that they have taken a giant step toward hosting a style of participatory engagement that Chris Corrigan describes here.

The work is not yet done and the learning continues.



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