A Workshop on Agenda Setting and Facilitation Techniques

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1 POWER BALLS A Workshop on Agenda Setting and Facilitation Techniques Size: 6-7 participants. Estimated Duration: 75 minutes. Purpose and Overview: This workshop is geared toward the youth leaders (interns, officers, etc.) who run your group meetings. The main activity is Power Balls, where participants take turns roleplaying as a facilitator in providing techniques that create opportunities for meeting attendees to speak and feel heard. Every time the role-playing facilitator successfully allows attendees to speak and feel heard (or fails to do so), meeting attendees (who are also role-playing) gain (or lose) a symbolic power ball. When a meeting attendee loses all of her/his power balls, s/he dies. Later in the year, if group leaders feel that the general membership isn t paying attention at group meetings, it may be useful to run this workshop with general members in the facilitator role, so they can see how difficult it is to facilitate a meeting. Learning Goals: Part I: l To help youth learn what constitutes a good agenda, including discussions that have concrete outcomes. A good agenda is NOT just a list of topics. Part II: l To help youth understand the role of the facilitator: making sure that people are heard, moving groups toward consensus decision-making, and achieving outcomes. l For youth to learn and practice specific facilitation skills. WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 113

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3 l For youth to learn skills for emotional facilitation that take into account participants moods, and not just their results. Note: It may be helpful to supplement this workshop with handouts on standard facilitation tools and skills. Materials Needed: (instructions are below) Part I: l Butcher paper l Sheets of paper with agenda components (components and instructions are below) l Pens Part II: l Butcher paper l Tape l Markers l Crumpled scratch paper as power balls l Cards numbered 1-6 (or more for additional participants) Introductory Statement: Activities As group leaders, youth leaders must be able to run meetings that are productive and make members feel engaged. The key to a successful meeting is not only what you do as a facilitator during the meeting, but more importantly, the preparation you put into planning an agenda. You can look at an agenda and have a good idea whether it will be a successful meeting regardless of who is facilitating. 114 WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls

4 This is Advanced Agenda Planning and Meeting Facilitation. Most of us have been in lots of meetings and have probably run some meetings ourselves. The information contained in here is different than what we are used to and we need to challenge ourselves to be open to doing things in a different way. (List goals.) Introductory Statement: Part I: Agendas Raise your hand if you have ever tried to bake a cake or cook a dish. Raise your hand if you have ever built a model car or helped to construct a house. In each case, you needed a recipe or a blueprint - you needed a game plan. In the same way, when we lead meetings for our own group, we need a game plan. We need to set goals for the meeting and create a plan to make sure we meet those goals. This plan is called The Agenda! 1. Human Puzzle Activity: Write each of the 7 components of the agenda in the table below on separate pieces of paper. Select 7 volunteers, and give one piece of the agenda to each volunteer. The volunteers goal is to organize themselves in the order that a proper agenda should look like. Draw the diagram below on a board to signify how the agenda/completed puzzle should look. If there are less than seven youth in the group, the training facilitator(s) can also participate, but allow the youth to tell him or her where to stand. WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 115

5 Meeting Agenda Check In/Community Agreements Ice Breaker Topic 1. Rally at Juvenile Hall next month Outcomes: Approve final draft of flyer. Outreach plan for who s recruiting at what schools. List of invited speakers Outcomes: Agreement on date, location and type of food Form committees: food, logistics, program Topic 2: End of Year BBQ Celebration Announcements/Appreciation Diagram X X X-X X-X X 116 WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls

6 2. Real Agenda Exercise: Ask the youth leaders to create an agenda for the first meeting they will be running. This should include check-in, icebreaker, energizer, announcements/appreciations, and at least 1-2 main planning/decision-making activities. All main activities/discussions must have at least one outcome. Tell the participants that an outcome is a goal that is concrete and real (something you can hold in your hand, or something that you can know for sure whether you achieved or not). Provide examples of bad and good outcomes: Bad People had fun People learned something or got updated Good Developed a timeline for a list of things to do Assigned people to carry out tasks Made a decision from several choices Introductory Statement: Part II: Meeting Facilitation Now that we have the agenda for our first meeting, we are going to learn skills we can use to keep our meetings productive and create space so everyone feels comfortable participating. WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 117

7 1. Word Guessing Game Preparation: On the long piece of butcher paper, copy the following skill chart with definitions, but do not write out the name of the 8 individual skills. Rather, draw empty boxes or dashes for each letter in each skill s name. (For example, Mirroring would look like this: _.) Place the butcher paper on the wall and keep the chart covered by folding it up and taping the bottom to the top. 1 Directions: Reveal the first set of blanks and definition. Read the definition and give the participants an opportunity to guess the word based only on the number of blanks. After waiting a couple of seconds, fill in the first letter. Give the participants another few seconds to guess the word. Continue to add additional letters, leaving a few seconds for guessing, until a participant guesses the word. The first person to guess correctly wins 10 points. Reveal the next set of blanks and definition, and repeat. Skill Chart Mirroring (9 spaces) Paraphrasing (12) Encouraging (11) This is used to acknowledge a short statement so the person who said it feels like they ve been heard. This is used to pull out the important details and shorten what was said so that everyone in the group can understand. This is used to hear from other people who haven t spoken (i.e., I haven t heard from this side of the room, can I hear from some of the sisters? Do the folks in the back want to weigh in on this? ) 118 WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls

8 Balancing (9) Making Space (6) (5) Stacking (8) Sequencing (10) Vibes Watcher (5) (7) This is used when some people are expressing a lot of their opinions and agreeing, but it seems like there are a few that don t agree and are quiet. This provides a chance to speak for someone who really wants to share but may be too shy. This helps the group focus on one speaker at a time, while acknowledging other people s turns so people can focus their energy on listening and not just trying to be heard. This is used to help the group stay focused on one topic of discussion at a time. This is used when non-verbal communication is distracting the group or keeping people from participating. Look for Body Language (yawning, dozing, head down, fidgeting), Facial Expressions (staring into space, looking unalert or distracted), and Side Conversations. If you see this, call it out and do an energizer or stretch, or have people move spaces to get focused. WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 119

9 2. Power Balls Game The format alternates between presentation and activities where the participants take turns role-playing as facilitator and acting out various standard facilitation tools. The rest of the participants signal whether the mock facilitator is exhibiting the required skill using their power balls. Note: Instructions given here are for groups of 6. Please adjust accordingly for different sized groups. Directions: 1. Ask participants to pick from cards numbered 1 to 6, and to keep their card a secret. Do not explain what the cards are for. 2. Mirroring and Paraphrasing: (i) Presentation. Introduce the first two facilitation skills, Mirroring and Paraphrasing, in presentation format: Ask people if they know what paraphrasing means. As people give their answers, paraphrase what they are saying until somebody catches on, or if no one volunteers, ask if anybody noticed what you were doing after 3-4 answers. Then explain that paraphrasing is summarizing what people say. Mirroring is like paraphrasing, except you say exactly what the person says. Use paraphrasing during discussions when people give long answers. Use mirroring during brainstorms when people give short answers. Purpose: when the facilitator mirrors/paraphrases what someone says, the speaker feels like they were listened to. 120 WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls

10 (ii) Activity: Practice mirroring in mock brainstorm. The person who picked Card #1 is the first Facilitator. The Facilitator will run a 3-minute brainstorm on this topic: possible locations for having our kickoff BBQ. The Facilitator has to mirror everyone s answers. Each meeting attendee has 3 power balls. Whenever the Facilitator does not mirror an attendee s answer, that attendee tosses aside a power ball. (Do not throw it at the Facilitator!) When an attendee has run out of balls, that attendee dies. After three minutes, count how many attendees the Facilitator let die. (iii) Activity: Practice paraphrasing in mock discussion. Everyone comes back to life and gets 3 power balls again. The person who picked card #2 leads a mock discussion (3 minutes): which of the brainstormed BBQ locations are good and why. The Facilitator has to paraphrase the answers. Each time an attendee is not paraphrased correctly, s/he loses a power ball. After three minutes, count how many attendees the Facilitator let die. 3. Encouraging, Balancing, and Making Space: (i) Presentation. Review three additional skills to use when people are speaking more than others. Encouraging: (Examples: Can we hear from some of the women? and Can we hear from this side of the room? ) Balancing: ( We ve heard one opinion. Does anyone have a different opinion? ) This is an important tool to use when the first few speakers express the same opinion, which has a tendency to silence people who disagree. This is also important when someone in a position of power has expressed an opinion, which can cause people who disagree to feel silenced.) Making Space: This involves mentioning someone by name to ask if they have anything to say. You need to know what you re doing if you use this tool. Facilitator WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 121

11 should not pick on random people. S/he must watch for body language to provide clues that the person wants to speak. S/he must also quickly move on if that person declines. (ii) Activity: Mock situation of unbalanced participation. The person who picked card # 3 facilitates a discussion on the topic: possible strategies to recruit members. Ask the Facilitator to leave the room. Give the following instructions to everyone else: If you have an even numbered card, you are a talkative person. If you have an odd number, you re quiet, but you will talk if the Facilitator is able to create room for you to talk, either by encouraging or by making space. Quiet people should give body signals that they have something to say, like leaning forward in your seat and looking excited, or fidgeting anxiously in your seat. When the Facilitator comes back in the room, do not tell the Facilitator who will be quiet or talkative. The Facilitator has to Encourage and Make Space. This time all the power balls will be in the center of the table. Every time a participant speaks, s/he gets to take one power ball. After 3 minutes, look at how evenly distributed the power balls are between participants to see whether the Facilitator did a good job of encouraging and making space for everyone to speak. It is fine if the quiet people do not have as many power balls as talkative people, but they should have a couple. Note: remind the Facilitator to keep using paraphrasing and mirroring. (iii) Activity: Mock situation of unbalanced opinions. Return all power balls to the center of the table. Card # 4 facilitates. Choose one of the recruiting strategies from the most recent exercise and discuss whether that is an effective strategy. Ask the Facilitator to leave the room. Tell participants with odd card numbers to say it s a great idea. Tell participants with even card numbers that it is a bad idea. Everyone should participate fully (no quiet people) but at the beginning, only the great idea people should talk. Only after the Facilitator uses Balancing do the bad idea people talk. Every time a participant speaks, s/he gets to take one power ball. After 3 minutes, look at how evenly distributed the power balls are between participants to see whether the Facilitator did a good job of balancing. Bad idea people may not have as many power 122 WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls

12 balls as good idea people, but they should have a couple. Note: remind the Facilitator to keep using paraphrasing and mirroring. Tip: Before asking the Facilitator to re-enter the room, allow people a few moments after hearing the topic to think about what they re going to say. This helps the assigned talkative people to actually be talkative during the activity. 4. Stacking and Sequencing: (i) Presentation: Review these new facilitation skills: When several people want to speak at the same time: Stacking ( OK, we ll take John, then after him Sharon, then Richard and Kimmy. ) The theory is that once people know they ll get their turn to speak, they ll relax and actually listen to the other speakers, instead of waiting for a pause so they can jump in. When there are several different topics at the same time: Sequencing ( I ve noticed there are several topics being discussed here. There s Topic A, Topic B, and Topic C (actually describe the topics). Let s agree to focus on Topic A for now, and if there s time we ll get to Topics B and C. Otherwise we ll schedule another meeting to discuss those topics. ) The theory is people will keep bringing up their side topic until what they want to talk about is recognized, so a facilitator has to acknowledge it, but not devalue it.) (ii) Activity: Mock situation of lots of people who want to talk: The person who picked card # 5 facilitates the topic: Possible ideas for this year s community project. Ask the Facilitator to leave the room. Tell everyone else they are talkative and should raise their hand a lot. When the Facilitator re-enters the room, the Facilitator has to use Stacking to give everyone a fair chance to speak. Everyone starts with 3 power balls. Every time a participant raises her/his hand and is not acknowledged by the Facilitator by being stacked, s/he loses a power ball. After 3 minutes, see how many participants the Facilitator let die. WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 123

13 (iii) Activity: Mock situation of people who go off-topic: The person who picked card #6 facilitates. Choose one of the ideas from the most recent exercise and discuss whether it s a great idea or a bad idea. The Facilitator leaves the room. Instruct everyone to be talkative, but only those with cards #1 and #2 should want to talk about the ideas agreed upon. Those with card numbers #3 and #4 should want to talk about another one of the brainstormed ideas, and #5 should want to talk about a third brainstormed idea. The Facilitator has to use Sequencing to keep the discussion on track Everyone starts with 2 power balls. Every time a participant raises a different topic and the Facilitator does not acknowledge the new topic, that participant loses a power ball. After 3 minutes, see how many participants the Facilitator let die. 5. Vibes Watching: (i) Presentation. Review one final skill for use when non-verbal communication and participant demeanor disrupts the meeting or affects the group s mood or energy. Vibes Watching: Look for body language (yawning, dozing, head down, fidgeting), facial expressions (staring into space, looking alert or distracted), and side conversations. If you see an example of any of these, call it out to the group: I have observed. and do an energizer or stretch, or have people move spaces to get focused. (ii) Activity: Mock situation of people who are not paying attention. The person who picked card #1 facilitates again on the topic: why does racism exist? Ask the Facilitator to leave the room. Participants with even card numbers will be engaged in the discussion. Participants with odd numbers will not engage, and either put their head down, yawn, stare into space, or slump in their chairs. When the Facilitator re-enters the room, the Facilitator must use the skill of vibes watching. No one has a power ball. If the Facilitator uses vibes watching by saying s/he notices that not everyone is focused or using attentive listening, and responds by trying to get everyone to do an icebreaker or stretch, everyone gets 2 power balls. 124 WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls

14 Quick Reflection Questions: 1. Which two facilitation techniques do you use all the time? 2. Which three techniques do you use when some people are speaking more than others? 3. Which technique do you use when lots of people want to talk at the same time? 4. Which technique do you use when people are going off-topic? 5. Which technique do you use when energy is low or people are acting distracted? WORKSHOPS FOR CHANGE I Power Balls 125

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