Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0236, December 27, 2005 ....

Dear friends,

As we move into the final issue of this year, I again present three more tips to "Closing the Session," and examples of applying this activity to your own business as well. I want to thank each of you for your continued support and encouragement throughout this past year. And as the pressure to "do more" seems to be growing, I close with a wish for us all in the coming year and it is hold and live our lives always in this question, "If my life were a masterpiece work of art, what, if anything, does it ask of me now?" I wish you and your family a very prosperous, happy, and fulfilled new year!

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Have a great week!

Steve Davis


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The Point

Closing the Session--Part II
Wrap up lose ends and call it a day.

Group Process Skill

This week, we continue last week's "closure" theme with three more steps to closing your group sessions. As the year also comes to a close, I again use examples to illustrate how to apply these tips to yourself and your business.

The ideas and attitudes shared during the close of your sessions typically exert the most lasting impressions upon your participant's minds. So how you wrap up, integrate, and evaluate the work done and to be done, helps increase the benefits of having come together. Below are the final three key elements of session closure.

Review the Parking Lot.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the "Parking Lot" tool used by facilitators and trainers. This is a great tool for redirecting comments or ideas that are off topic. The Parking Lot consists of a flip chart located somewhere on the wall or placed on an easel on the sidelines to note items that aren't on the current agenda or aligned with the stated purpose of the session. These items are revisited during session closure to either deal with real time, discard if they've already been resolved or are no longer of interest, or to develop a plan to handle them at a later date.

Ask Participants to Evaluate.

One of your most valuable growth tools as a group leader is the input you receive from your participants at the end of each session. Always take the time to ask for this and to hear their responses. A simple way to do this is to provide participants with a single sheet of paper with questions around the specific value they received, their favorite processes, and suggestions for improvement, in content, delivery, process, and style. The overall flow of the form should address what was effective, what was not, and suggested changes.

Close and Review Action Items.

Any lasting value accrued from your sessions will be evidenced by what people actually "do" with what they learned or decided upon during the session. Documentation, assignment, and commitment to action items or individual action plans is the very least you can do to facilitate follow on actions and integration of learning. Plans for regular follow up among group members or with you will improve the chances that actions are taken back in the "real" world. Work with participants to facilitate their written commitment to action and discuss likely barriers that are likely to show up and ways to overcome them.


Below are examples of three key elements of session closure applied to my own business.

Review the Parking Lot.

There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about but haven't because I believe it's not quite aligned with the purpose and theme of this publication. Yet as we close out the year, I realize I've had this issue in the parking lot and would like to briefly share it with you now...

I need to reach an adequately sized audience to develop enough customers to continue to support this work. I'm learning that facilitation, though seen as an increasingly valuable skill set, is in itself not all that well recognized and valued by the larger business community. Though leadership is, content in that arena seems to be reaching a saturation point. Therefore, my question to live into in the coming year is this, "How can I refine, recreate, or realign my offerings to address real needs in the marketplace that people are willing to pay for?" I welcome your input and comments on this.

Ask Participants to Evaluate.

My desire is to provide you with the most useful and relevant information, tools, and resources I can. So, whether you've been a subscriber of this journal for many years or are new to this list, please tell me at least one thing you like about what I'm doing, one thing that could be improved, and any changes you'd recommend. We all tend to respond better when a reward is available. After all, we are asking for people's time to our benefit when we invite feedback. So in that spirit, to whomever responds to this request, and/or to the one above, I'll reply with a link to a one-hour audio recording of an interview I did earlier this year with Harrison Owen, founder of the ever-popular large group process, "Open Space Technology." Harrison is quite a wise and colorful character whom I think you'll find very interesting as he tells his story of the development and philosophy of this process.

Close and Review Action Items.

As I close out this year and this group, my actions for the coming year are as follows:

I'd love to hear any ideas or feedback you have on any of these goals. Thank you!


Do the exercise above with your own business and let me know how it works for you, we'd love to hear from you.

Note to Publishers

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Want to make a change in your meetings?

If you're often part of poorly run meetings for which you aren't the official leader and would like to do something about it, have a look at this free report I've put together to support participants from leading from within. Click here to download, "This Meeting Sucks, I'm Taking Over...With Conscious Acts of Leadership. I'm forming working groups to help empower group participants to exercise their leadership skills from any position and am looking for enthusiastic candidates. So if you have any clients who might benefit from this perspective, please send them this link as well.
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