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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0025 | October 30, 2001
6,700 Subscribers

Presence and Presenting Skill

Attend to the Physical Environment
Design an environment that supports your purpose and process.

The Point?

Just ask any of the growing number of Feng Shui consultants how important your environment is to your effectiveness. I'm sure each of you can remember a time attending an event where something in the environment either supported or hindered your involvement in, or enjoyment of the experience.

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, any unmet needs at the physical level will supersede all higher order needs. Group process is definitely a higher order event on this hierarchy. And sure enough, if the environment is just right, most people won't even notice. But if something is off, everyone is likely to be distracted from what you're trying to accomplish.

So, as facilitators, the environment is a very important, and sometimes forgotten, piece of the puzzle that we must take into consideration whenever we design a group process, meeting, training, etc. 


Here are the key dimensions to examine each time you plan an event. 

Physical Level
. Attend to the physical comfort of your participants by checking your ability to control temperature, noise levels inside (echoes) and outside the room. Is the seating appropriate to your audience? For example, no grammar school desks at an adult meeting. If you use overheads or a white board, can everyone see them with the current seating arrangement? If you plan to break into small groups, is there room to do so? Are chairs and tables arranged in a way that's appropriate to your purpose? For example, don't set up the room lecture style (most rooms come set up this way) if you're trying to facilitate large group interaction. Are you providing food for the event?  Consider the timing and duration of the event to determine when, what, and how food should be served. Also consider that serving food or deserts of some kind often get more people to show up (feed them and they will come!), but also consider that depending on what you serve, eating may cause participants to lose their attention afterwards.

Sensory Level. Can everyone be heard from one end of the room to the other? If not, make sure you have sound equipment available and readily accessible to anyone in the room. This may require multiple microphones, or microphone runners.  Also, make sure you test the equipment yourself and feel competent using it. How does the room look? Is it clean and uncluttered? Any strange smells that could be distracting? Is the lighting adequate for your purposes? Can it be adjusted to  your needs or can you rearrange the seating to make it work? 

Emotional Level. Have you taken into account the "mood" you want to create to support your purpose? Are there certain colors, pictures, sounds, smells that you could use to facilitate a tone conducive for the work to be done? Do you plan to use music? Are the selections appropriate? Can the equipment be placed so that everyone will hear it at a comfortable level?


Your assignment this week is to notice the various aspects of the environment where you're attending a group meeting. Note how it is affecting you positively or negatively and jot down at least three things you notice that work or don't work. Iím interested in hearing what happens for you. Please email me right away and let me know what happened. I'd love to hear about it!

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Reader Survey 
What do You do to Facilitate Powerful Process Environments?

This week, we're asking for your input on this week's topic and the question of environments. Please share with us the special  things you do or have done within your facilitation "space" to make your group process physically or psychically comfortable, efficient, and effective for your participants. All those who respond will be sent the entire collection of responses.

Thanks for your help in making the Master Facilitator Journal the best facilitation resource site on the web!

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About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to stretch beyond their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on November 6, 2001. 


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