In May I facilitated a half-day workshop at a Vancouver-area college and it marked my first in person facilitation since the pandemic took hold of us all in March 2020. I was thrilled to be back in a physical room again and revelled particularly in the sound of participants chatting and laughing animatedly together in breakout groups.

However, I realized in retrospect that preparing my facilitation supplies for the session had been a somewhat haphazard endeavour. After a two-year hiatus of facilitating in person I actually forgot to bring tape to hang flipcharts, probably one of the most basic supplies that a facilitator should always have on hand! I also couldn’t help but reflect on the extra thinking and work I had to do to prepare to facilitate in person in a pandemic-ridden world. Some things had definitely changed.

On the ferry ride home from the session I started to make a list of some of the things I had needed to think about (or forgot to think about!) to get back to facilitating in person:

  • Some of it was about space: How big was the room? How far apart should people be? Will we be able to move around the room? Will pairs and small group activities still work?
  • Some of it was about hygiene: Will masks – if worn – make a difference to communication? Can people touch the same sticky notes or markers? Where will we put the hand sanitizer? What do we have to say to the group about all this?
  • And some of it was about me: Am I ready for this? How will I handle the small amount of worry I have about potentially getting sick? And, frankly, What will I wear on my feet after not facilitating in shoes for two years!?

I thought about how in my book, Design to Engage, I had included a Facilitator’s Toolkit (a list of supplies to bring when facilitating in person) as well as a Preparation Checklist. But at the time I was writing the book, in 2019, notions like needing to have hand sanitizer on hand, considering how potential virus transmission would affect how we would use supplies, or grappling with illness-related worries about facilitating in person understandably weren’t on my radar.

So, I created a short checklist. It’s short and hopefully sweet, just a two-pager to help you prepare well to return to in person facilitation. Now I know some of you have actually been facilitating in person for quite some time now, so I’d love your feedback about anything I might have missed! What have you had to think through to prepare that you didn’t have to before the pandemic?

Download the free Back to In Person Checklist. I wish you much success in all of your facilitations.

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