Preparing for any event

Posted by  GeoffBrown —January 1, 2013
Filed in Being Present, Facilitation

Here’s a draft post that I forgot to publish …

I just heard a live interview with 11 times Surfing world champion, Kelly Slater, about what he does to prepare for his heat that day. A pro-surf event that happened in December at Hawaii’s famous Sunset Beach.

This got me thinking about my own preparation on the morning of a facilitation gig. I’m right in the middle of my preparation now, with an event starting in 2 hours from now. I’ve just come off two days of facilitation and have another 2 days to follow.

When you are in the middle of a big week of performing (cause that’s what it feels like) maintaining energy levels is key. You have to nourish your body, mind and spirit … if you don’t then performing at your best is impossible. This is true of any endeavour.

I can tell when I haven’t prepared because my instructions/explanations about process become ‘waffly’ and incoherent. Lack of preparation, for me, creates a thick fog in the space between me and participants – the very people I am there to serve. My ability to read the moment by moment group dynamics diminishes. Time slippage occurs and, physiologically, I sweat a lot more. My demeanour is heavy and I wear a frown. Poor preparation, especially lack of sleep, impacts everything for me!

When I prepare well, the opposite happens. When giving instructions or explaining a process, I know when to terminally shut-up and keep things brief (thanks Chris here and Viv here in point #4). Most importantly, participants and my clients walk away feeling nourished with a sense that we cracked open some complex nuts!

So, here’s what I’ve been doing this week in Melbourne to stay fresh and focused:

– start the day with plenty of water and a session of sitting meditation

– steer clear of too many carbs and stick with protein … and don’t mix the 2!

– It’s probably very risky … but, I ride everywhere (on my Melbourne Bikeshare Bike) between workshop venues and meetings

– And yes I allow myself one coffee each morning at the Slip’s Cafe on Albert St

– Get to the venue well before participants … take my time to set up and “notice” what’s in the room because sometimes spaces have unique attributes you can use later. I also imagine the space full of people and run through some possible openings

– When working with Chris Corrigan earlier this year he pointed out the “nature of the sound” of a group. I now, after intially struggling with the concept, understand where he is coming from here. From time to time during conversation processes like World Cafe, I’ll turn away from the group and just listen to the sound of conversation. By allowing myself the time to notice this “group-sound” (and block my visual sense), I have another way of sensing … which leads to new ways of responding to the group needs.

– Steer clear of most workshop food (although today’s was an exception to the rule and I indulged)

– Drink plenty more water

As I grow older and wiser, I am becoming more disciplined on the points above. Feel free to share your own “preparation” tips in the comments … even if it’s unrelated to facilitation.


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