“Your session was a fabulous example of how to offer learning online. It expanded my options and confidence. Thank you so much Beth, I will sign up for more.”

I’m grateful for this kind of feedback from happy virtual workshop participants, always. But don’t get me wrong, I also get negative comments from time to time. (We all do, we can’t avoid it.) In the feedback from the same “Beyond the Ordinary: Getting Creative in Virtual Facilitation” workshop that I ran where one person gave me the feedback above, another participant said this:

“I would have preferred a corporate lens on the session. While I enjoyed the ‘games’ this would not be tolerated with my audiences.”

However, I have to wonder…is this comment about me and my facilitation style and the creative activities I led the group through, or more of a comment on the staid nature of this participant’s corporate environment? An environment which seems to be shutting down innovative ideas before they’re even attempted? I have to admit that seeing this comment made me a little sad…for them, not for me.

In Beyond the Ordinary I show people how to use chat, annotation, video, audio and breakout rooms in interesting – and useful – ways. I can’t say that everything I show will work in all organizations for all purposes (what would?), but my overall point is that we have to keep pushing the envelope in ALL our settings when holding virtual events. We need to continue striving to create meetings that are engaging and yes, at the same time, really work to serve our goals. And often as facilitators WE have to be the ones to do this, not bow to the notions that “people won’t accept this” or “I can’t do this in my organization.”

This work can be a good example of “leading up” or “leading from the middle”. Don’t wait until the boss tells you that you can hold creative online meetings. Just do it and let the results speak for themselves. People will be refreshed, energized, and even extremely thankful that someone – YOU – chose to do things a different way.

Because of this comment, I now encourage people – in pre-workshop communication and at the start of sessions – to bring a “designer’s mindset” to my sessions. I tell them it’s up to each of them to keep an open mind, experience everything I do with them fully, and think about how some or all of it will work in their sector or setting.

Facilitation and facilitation online is creative work. We need open and creative mindsets now more than ever, don’t you think?

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