When designing processes and activities in any meeting or workshop, the words you select for their introduction to your group are important.

For example, it’s amazing how much competition can emerge when small groups break out to perform the same activity.  Sometimes, it may be useful to bring out that competitive streak.  Those behaviours may be evident and ‘getting in the way’ of effective shared thinking and decision making.  In these cases, a debrief is critical to allow observations and responses to be discussed.  Needless to say, such an approach requires care and an understanding of possible consequences that may emerge.

On the other hand, if you don’t want a group activity to become a competition, take care not to unconsciously set it up.  It’s all too easy to find words like best, most innovative/clever/creative falling into your introduction.

If you’re planning any new group activity,  play with its introduction on paper and/or in your head, and consciously consider what the impact of that introduction will be on the group.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney

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