If there is one thing we’ve learned from nearly two decades of facilitating planning sessions and retreats, it would be you can never come too prepared. We’ve seen it all—technology failures, forgotten handouts, and logistic blunders.
Here are a few small pointers you can use to ensure you’re running an efficient session. They may be small, but you’d be surprised how big an impact they have:
- Walk the space a few weeks (or days) before the scheduled session to plan logistics. If you can, visit the space you will be working in. Take detailed notes on how large the room is, how you will arrange tables, chairs, and visuals, and what technology is available in the room. Being thorough and thoughtful about arranging your team can make a huge difference in how productive the session is.
- Think through your visuals. After walking the space, think about how to use visuals within the facilitation. If you want to use posters and sticky notes, make sure you have enough wall space. If you’re using a projector and PowerPoint, make sure everyone will be able to see it clearly and the appropriate technology is in place.
- If you’re using a microphone or any other types of technology, test as many times as you can. Make sure all the equipment you need is in the room and working properly before the session starts. There is nothing more embarrassing than trying to figure out technology issues with a room full of people watching.
- Prep a facilitators agenda. In addition to preparing an agenda for the planning meeting, you should prepare a version of the agenda for yourself that includes detailed notes, who is presenting when, and what the visual requirements are for every section of your facilitation. Think of it like a cheat-sheet for you to use through the day. You can find an example of a planning agenda and a facilitators agenda here.
- Give yourself enough time to set up and give everything a final test. Give yourself enough breathing room to arrive, set up the room, and give everything a final test before you begin you planning session. You don’t want to be rushing until the last minute and be mentally unprepared to lead the session when it starts.
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During planning sessions, the little details matter. Ensuring you’re fully-prepared to lead allows you to focus on the material instead of logistics. It’s a small step that makes all the difference in ensuring you have a productive planning meeting.