Facilitating Under Fire, Trust, Lies, Twitter and Death by PowerPoint

On the Training Road This Summer

I’ll see you in Tucson the week of May 24 for the 2010 Environmental Conflict Resolution Conference attending and doing a half-day public involvement training class. We’re also teaching the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Certificate course for the City of Peoria this summer.

If you’re interested n taking all or part of the 5-day Certificate course it will be offered at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) the week of September 13. I taught the class there last year, the venue and folks at CMAP are great and it’s in the heart of my favorite city. CMAP is also hosting the Emotion Outrage and Public Participation 2-day class on October 27th and 28th this fall. The IAP2 Certificate course is also being offered in Irvine, CA in July and Kansas City in August.

If you like to learn more about any of these classes or would like to talk about bringing training directly to your group please call or email me for details.

602-266-5556 or jdg@GodecRandall.ocm

Fight or Flight in Facilitating Public Meetings

Facilitation has been on my mind a lot the past couple of weeks, I worked two particularly contentious public meetings recently and I’m just finishing a review of Standing in the Fire by Larry Dressler, one of the better books on the subject – it’s really a self-help read for facilitators, I recommend it.

Facilitation, like Rodney Dangerfield, sometimes gets no respect as a wimp profession. People who win by talking louder, longer and bullying others usually aren’t interested in allowing a safe space for a real discussion. I’ve been a CPF (Certified Professional Facilitator) for awhile and managed my share of ugly, volatile public meetings.

There’s a notion of facilitators needing to stand ‘outside of the meeting’ which really is old-school thinking. When you’re dealing with emotional situations you have to feel the fear and anger in the room in order to understand and guide it. Empathy is critical but facilitating uncomfortable meetings also requires managing the fight or flight instinct that kicks in when you’re the one getting kicked. Success comes from confidence, understanding and practice. Good facilitation is a martial art.

Here are two related stories, one with facilitation tips for helping left-brain (logical) people find creative solutions, and another with tips for curing your time-wasting internal meetings :



Trust Me

We’re living in a deeply cynical time my friend. But the fact is that trusting people is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’ve all been burned, but the fact is that if you trust others they frequently repay that trust, leading you to be more trusting. So where do we start?


People Lie More by Email

An article in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that people lie half again as much in emails as they do in handwritten documents. Contributing reasons include email being less permanent and less restrained, and the lower personal connection that we have with people online. Which has to make us think about the long term consequences of how we’re communicating online and about the authenticity of social media? So read on:


Top Ten Tips for Liars

Truth and truthiness has been a topic of conversation with a dicey public issue that one of my clients has been dealing with recently. I’m not suggesting that you use this as a how-to-lie lesson but it might come in handy for spotting BS. From Psychology Today:


The Truth about Twitter

Social media is changing and evolving faster than any of us can keep up but for a snapshot in time, a study just completed by Edison Research offers 7 important helpful factoids about Twitter.


Death by PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s gotten a lot of heat lately starting with the U.S. military a couple of weeks ago. It’s time to chill here, PowerPoint is just a tool! And like any tool you can use it for good, like for simple visual reinforcement of a good, smart, well-crafted message or for evil by filling the screen with indecipherable junk until your audience passes out. Here are three great PowerPoint tips:



Almost every public meeting or newsletter ends with the agency or project proponent asking people for some kind of input. It’s frequently done as an afterthought and people can tell, which just adds to their cynicism about the whole public involvement process. Although this specific story is geared toward business, the Globe and Mail had a very good and practical take on how to do this well:


50 Greatest Speeches Ever Delivered

This is mostly for fun but also because I expect that you, like me, are a fan of inspiring words and great communicators – enjoy.


A New Knowledge Engine

My nephew wastes time on the web so you and I don’t have to. He sent me this site a couple of weeks ago and I’ve passed it on to a handful of engineering and science pals who were impressed. Take the time to click and watch Stephen Wolfram’s intro and tell me what you think.


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