Beyond COP26: The Conversations – facilitation case study

Communicate Beyond COP26 - the conversations

“How can we bring together 90 diverse stakeholders in a series of six online conversations in a day, to tackle complex environmental topics and have strong outputs – avoiding a ‘talking shop’”?

These were among the questions that led NHC Director Savita Wilmott to approach me in December 2021 to design and lead “Beyond COP26: The Conversations”. Savita was familiar with me, and with ICA:UK and ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP), and knew that ICA’s ToP Focused Conversation method could be part of the answer.

Context

The Natural History Consortium (NHC) is a charitable collaboration of 14 organisations working together on a shared mission: to develop, test and disseminate best practice to engage everyone with the environment and natural world.

Communicate is the UK’s conference for environmental communicators, attracting around 200 attendees to previous in-person events and over 600 to the 2021 online conference ‘Communicate beyond COP26’. ‘The Conversations’ were the final phase of this 3-part online conference, following earlier sessions in June & September 2021.

Six round table Conversations of 90 minutes each were scheduled for one day in January 2022. Each were to have up to 16 different people attending – communication professionals from across the country, invited and/or nominated by NHC members, who may or may not have attended previous sessions in the series.

The overall theme was “What will we learn from COP26, and how will the UK’s environmental communication community translate international declarations into local action, and national programmes?” and in particular ‘has the landscape changed?’ The six Conversation topics were:

  1. Putting nature at the heart of climate change communication
  2. Learning from COP26 about better partnerships with young people
  3. Engaging people with trees, woodlands and deforestation
  4. Transparency, accountability, and avoiding greenwashing
  5. Breakthrough communication techniques and campaigns from COP
  6. From international declarations to local action.

Two people were lined up to give a 5 minute ‘provocation’ at the beginning of each Conversation, and then stay on to participate. Key insights were to be captured and shared with the Communicate community in a series of bite-size reflection papers, audio resources and tool kits.

The Conversations were to be held in Zoom to avoid ‘new platform fatigue’, with the plenary time recorded to support preparation of the ‘insight papers’ by the NHC team but the breakout spaces not recorded in order to encourage candid conversation. The six Conversations will be led separately from each other, however it was felt that it would add value to have a simple asynchronous digital place to which participants from across the conversations can contribute before, during and after the conversations.

Aims

In conversation with Savita, the aims of the Conversations were agreed to be broadly as follows:

  • To share learning and expertise about the topic between those present, to cross-fertilize ideas across the environmental communication sector after COP26
  • To generate insights that can be shared with the wider sector through NHC’s marketing channels
  • For participants to feel like they have had a satisfactory opportunity to share their experiences in a well-structured and safe environment
  • For participants to feel connected to the Communicate community, and more likely to engage in future events or be active in the network.

Approach

I had arranged for fellow ICA:UK Associate Megan Evans to work with me as co-facilitator, and with our ICA:UK colleague Alice Blackwell and David Linskey to work with us online session producers. I led three conversations in series with Alice, while Megan led the other three with David.

Our approach was to draw on the methods of ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP), and the ToP Focused Conversation method in particular. Pioneered and refined by ICA in over 50 years of experience worldwide, ToP is a proven system of methods and tools that can be adapted and applied to help all sorts of groups accomplish a wide variety of tasks together. The core values of the ToP approach, which inform all of my work, are inclusive participation, teamwork and collaboration, individual and group creativity, ownership and action, reflection and learning.

The ToP Focused Conversation method provides a structured, four-level process for effective communication which ensures that everyone in a group has the opportunity to participate.

I proposed that we use this method to structure a series of questions for each conversation, tailored in collaboration with the NHC team to meet the above aims in respect of each topic. For examples of this approach in action we shared the ICA:UK Online Focused Conversation Series 2020 to which Megan, Alice and I had all contributed, and my own Free facilitation webinars.

Tools

For a simple asynchronous digital place to which participants from across the conversations could contribute before, during and after Conversations, I proposed that consider one of the following – depending on whether only brainstorming or also interaction may be helpful (and likely), and on which (if any) may already be familiar to participants:

We agreed to use EasyRetro for its simplicity of use and in order to easily export the data for editing into the insight papers. We agreed to use mentimeter as well for a simple participant feedback survey.

Pre-session communications to participants included:

To make sure that you will be able to join and participate, participants may need to join this Zoom test meeting in advance and then follow any instructions to download and install the Zoom app and configure your settings as necessary – https://zoom.us/test.

Participants will need a stable broadband internet connection with speed of preferably at least 10 Mbps download / upload. You can test yours at www.speedtest.net.

For greater functionality to maximise everyone’s engagement and learning, please use a laptop rather than a phone or tablet and join via the Zoom app not a browser. It is helpful to update your Zoom app to the latest version – see Zoom app upgrade.

Please use your own laptop (one per person), with headphones and a microphone, and join the session on your own from a quiet and well-lit place so that you can be seen and heard without distractions for yourself or others.

To use Easyretro on the same device as Zoom you will need to have a large screen and/or to navigate from one window to another and back again. It is not essential but can be helpful to have a second device or screen, in order to use one for zoom and one for the other tool.

Process

We applied the ToP Focused Conversation method to craft a series of nine ‘ORID’ questions that could be used across all six 90-minute Conversation sessions, for consistency of outputs.

We invited participants to respond to the first three (Objective level) questions in advance of the session in order to familiarise themselves with Easyretro, and then we reviewed and added to those responses at the start of each session. Participants responded to the remaining questions in conversation in small breakout groups, and were able to see the ideas of other groups in EasyRetro as they added their own. That enabled the plenary sessions to focus on discussion rather than reporting.

The three sessions I led started at 9.00, 12.00 and 2.30, and the three led by Megan started at 9.30,12.30 and 3.00. Staggering the start times by half an hour enabled Savita to attend and speak at the opening and closing of all six sessions.

Agenda Discussion questions
Opening & overview
Introductory conversation, building on responses shared on Easyretro in advance 

Objective level questions

1. Please share something about yourself and your work

2. Is there one thing that you hope to learn or gain from this Conversation?

3. What resources or links can you share on this topic?

First breakout groups, followed by plenary feedback & discussion 

Reflective level questions

4. How do you feel that your work or views on environmental communication have been affected by COP26?

5. How do you feel that your organisation or the wider sector is responding to the outcomes of COP26?

Break
Second breakout groups, followed by plenary feedback & discussion – with responses captured in Easyretro

Interpretive & Decisional level questions

6. What are some ways that the environmental communication sector could work together more effectively on this issue?

7. What are some of the barriers that we still need to tackle?

8. What is a key ‘call to action’ that we can share from this room to the wider Communicate community?

9. What are any issues that need more attention or discussion, perhaps at the upcoming Communicate conference in November 2022?

Takeaways & next steps
Evaluation & close

Outputs

Communicate Beyond COP26 - the conversations

The BNHC team wrote up the outputs of the six conversations and published them on their website as an insight paper.

What the participants had to say

BNHC Please-rate-this-session-a-how-far-do-you-agree

BNHC How-are-you-feeling-right-now

Savita Willmott, CEO of the Natural History Consortium, wrote in a recommendation on Jun 24, 2022:

“Martin supported our charity in January 2022 to bring together 90 diverse stakeholders into a series of six online conversations in a single day. We were looking to tackle complex environmental topics, and have strong outputs. His advice and support was invaluable to design an effective programme for the day as well as to expertly facilitate the session alongside another facilitator. We achieved our aim of avoiding a “talking shop” – the outputs of the session are informing our strategic work six months later, and the connections made between organisations are thriving. Martin strikes a brilliant balance between flexibility and attention to detail, and we’d recommend him without hesitation.”


See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

请点击下载 – 简体中文版《引导的力量》#FacPower

已经发布 Out NowI am very excited that the first translation of The Power of Facilitation book #FacPower is now available as a free PDF download in simplified Chinese.

Many thanks and congratulations to Michelle Zhang and all of the Chinese team for their translation, and for their online launch event on Saturday which has resulted in 375 downloads already.

Thank you also to the 80+ other volunteers around the world who are continuing to work to translate the book into up to 15 other languages as well!

Are you interested to help to translate The Power of Facilitation into your own language?  Please check out #FacPower Translation page for what support we are ready to offer and what we will expect from you.


已经发布 – 请点击下载

“作为印象台湾(Image Taiwan)的发起者及引导师,我经历了引导的力量和对话如何给不同背景的人们提供空间和机会,将民族精神重新塑造成积极的、具有创造性的和激发出希望的力量。这本书是任何希望在世界各地带来可持续的、持久的和正向改变的人必读之书。”
吴咨杏(Jorie Wu) IAF-CPF I Master, 台湾朝邦文教基金会执行长

这本书是关于什么的?

这本书是全球思想领袖在引导方面的合作成果。每一章都着眼于引导在商业、社区、生活和社会不同方面的力量。书中不少案例说明了引导如何帮助人们一起思考,已取得了令人惊叹的有影响力的结果。并且也举例说明了如何利用引导的力量来更好地独立思考。

本书章节从引导的力量如何帮助组织创造积极、可持续的变革开始,帮助组织进行战略性和批判性思考,并帮助解决冲突。最后几章探讨了引导的力量如何超越解决特定问题或实现特定目标;他们思考如何利用引导来帮助个人、团体和整个社会共同思考、成长和创新。

引导的力量使人们能够自由地发表言论,探索自己的观点和想法。它允许结果出现,而不被妥协了。

中文译者推荐:

这是一本可以将引导应用于公、商、非盈利组织等有数年经验的实践者的著作合集。它适合于任何对引导、对话及用引导达成正向改变的个人和组织。无论什么时候翻开它,我们期待这些文字、故事和反思能给你带来一些火花,借着光和亮推开一扇通往探索之门,你将会在引导的世界中见证它的力量,得到你所求。

已经发布 – 请点击下载


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Another year in freelance facilitation, now both online and in-person again

Wallace Space Euston

Scaling up engagement and dialogue the power of facilitation and communications in partnership #FacPower

Last summer as I reviewed the year to June 2021, I wondered when I might finally be tempted to accept any face-to-face work again. As it turned out, after 2 years of the COVID19 pandemic spent working exclusively online, the last quarter of this year to June (and July too) were all about in-person events.

As in previous years, I shall share here in this longer read some data and reflections on the last year of my professional practice, and some insights and implications for my future practice and professional development. It is broadly a four-level ORID reflection again, of course.

In this past year to June 2022 I delivered 19 contracts for 15 clients. That compares with 32 contracts for 22 clients the year before, and 25 for 19 the year before that. I had been so busy in 2020-21 that I had resolved to be more selective this year in my client commitments. Whether that is what resulted in the reduced workload or whether fewer opportunities came my way, the outcome was welcome and I was very pleased to have had the contracts that I did.

This past year’s contracts involved a total 76 individual online sessions and 2 in-person events in Belfast and London. That compares with more than 100 online sessions and none in-person the year before; and before that 14 in-person, one ‘hybrid’ and 16 wholly virtual events (of one or more sessions).

I Declare A Climate Emergency

I resolved in January 2020 to restrict my travel mostly to places accessible to London without flying, and of course to try to travel less and work more online (that worked out well). So it suited me well that my international clients continued largely to request online work and my first two contracts for in-person events were both in the UK and one within walking distance in London. I have been happy to return to working in-person only in the last quarter and to return to hybrid working not at all (yet), and I have been happy to better acquaint myself with rail & ferry routes to Northern Ireland.

For one contract this year I was sub-contracted to a colleague and for nine I sub-contracted to one or more colleagues myself (or in one case licensed a colleague to deliver a training session independently). That compares to 10 & 19 last year and 7 & 4 the year before. So I have returned to working more on my own client contracts, compared to last year. Compared to before the pandemic, however, my work has continued to be more collaborative and involve much more co-facilitation. My contracts have often been larger as well.

Partners that I have contracted with this past year include again ICA:UK colleagues Megan Evans and Orla Cronin, and this year IAF colleagues Marie Dubost, Charo Lanao and Hector Villarreal Lozoya. I have otherwise collaborated also with others of the ICA:UK team and that of Orla Cronin, and with many IAF colleagues – some mentioned below.

Clients I have worked with have again included largely UK charities and international NGOs, although this year also UK devolved government and no European agencies, contractors, associations or NGO networks.

Of this past year’s contracts, 7 involved facilitation while 7 involved training and 6 involved coaching and consulting. That compares to 11 facilitation, 18 training and 7 coaching & consulting the year before, and 7 facilitation & 16 training the year before that. So my facilitation and training work have returned to their previous more or less equal balance, and the proportion of contracts involving coaching and consulting has continued to rise – that too has been welcome.

Facilitation contracts this past year have ranged in scale from a single session of 60-90 minutes at relatively short notice to as many as 17 sessions collaboratively designed and prepared over several months:

  • with Amnesty International, design and lead facilitation of a series of 17 sessions of the online 2021 Global Assembly, involving a multilingual team of 5 facilitators and 3-4 delegates of each of almost 70 member entities worldwide working in English, French and Spanish
  • with Oxford Properties on behalf of Traction Strategy, breakout session facilitation for an online Global Leadership Conference of around 300 delegates
  • with the Portuguese Refugee Council and Amnesty International Ireland, design and facilitation of a second online Best Practice Convening session of around 50 key actors in Community Sponsorship of Refugees across Europe
  • with Amnesty International, design and facilitation of an online team-building session for the International Board, Coalition Leadership Team and Governance Programme staff of the International Secretariat
  • with the Natural History Consortium, design and facilitation of a series of six online conversations bringing together 90 diverse stakeholders at ‘Communicate’, the UK’s conference for environmental communicators
  • with Amnesty International, Europe & Central Asia region, lead design and facilitation of a 5-session online Regional Forum involving over 100 delegates from around 25 member organisations
  • with Global Fishing Watch, design and facilitation of a 3-day retreat of the global Executive Team of 14 in London

Ann Burroughs

Ann Burroughs, Chair of the 2021 Global Assembly and Preparatory Committee, Amnesty International, wrote in a recommendation:

“Martin and his team provided outstanding support during Amnesty International’s 2021 Global Assembly which for the first time was held entirely online. They were integral in the planning of the model which helped to ensure broad participation and access for delegates of almost 70 member entities. Their experience and familiarity with facilitating online spaces were game changing and were critical in helping to build trust in the process and in a new model of digital governance.”

Savita Wilmott

Savita Willmott, CEO, The Natural History Consortium, wrote:

“Martin supported our charity in January 2022 to bring together 90 diverse stakeholders into a series of six online conversations in a single day. We were looking to tackle complex environmental topics, and have strong outputs. His advice and support was invaluable to design an effective programme for the day as well as to expertly facilitate the session alongside another facilitator. We achieved our aim of avoiding a “talking shop” – the outputs of the session are informing our strategic work six months later, and the connections made between organisations are thriving. Martin strikes a brilliant balance between flexibility and attention to detail, and we’d recommend him without hesitation.”

Training contracts this past year have ranged in scale from a single introductory session for one group to a series of multi-session courses for multiple groups:

For the first year since 2014, I offered no scheduled public ToP facilitation training myself this past year. Instead, I have invited participants to register with ICA:UK or another ICA worldwide. I have welcomed the reduced workload and risk that has resulted, and I have no plans at present to resume a paid public training offering.

I have expanded and clarified my offering of in-house facilitation training to include tailored courses that were not previously offered on a public schedule, and to make clearer which courses are now available online or in-person or both.

Coaching and consulting contracts this past year have again ranged in scale from one or two one-hour sessions with a single coachee to providing coaching and consulting support for multiple teams to design and lead a multi-session international event:

  • with Lindsey Green of Frankly Green +Webb, facilitation coaching in support of strategic planning with clients in the museum and arts sector
  • with Nicole Moran of Advisory & Facilitation Services, facilitation coaching in support of online strategic planning and focus group sessions
  • with Action Aid International, facilitation coaching and support for the Convener, Organising Committee and Governance staff of the Global Secretariat in preparation for sessions of the online Annual General Meeting

Nicole Moran, Global Development Advisory & Facilitation Services, wrote in a recommendation:

“Martin is the perfect coach, blending expertise and experience in the finest manner to provide excellent coaching and training support to me. His professional, encouraging and non-judgmental approach helped me venture to use a range of approaches, online platforms and tools – whether for training, review meetings, presenting the results of an evaluation. Since 2020 when Covid redefined our ways of working and relating, my work has shifted almost entirely to the virtual platform. I felt it important to get some expert guidance to ensure that I select the right tools and approaches for online working and continue to remain as efficient and effective as possible with my clients, my team and others. I am grateful for the professional support and guidance of Martin and looking forward to Martin’s continued guidance.”

In my volunteering, I have not (yet) been tempted to take up any new leadership role and have instead enjoyed contributing on a more ad hoc basis to a number of projects, more and less facilitation-related.

I continued my social media support by tweeting for Facilitation Week, as I have since the first #FacWeek in 2013, and by managing the website and social media for the Power of Facilitation book project. Having managed the website and social media for ICA International since I stood down as President in 2016, I was pleased to be able to support the new ICAI Board this year to appoint a new website and social media manager to succeed me (the fabulous Rena Koç) and to see a welcome refresh of the ICAI website.

IAF Facilitation Summit 2021

For Facilitation Week I also co-hosted two sessions of the IAF Facilitation Summit in October – ‘Facilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together’ with Adam Kahane and ‘Scaling Up Engagement & Dialogue’ with Michael Ambjorn, both drawing on recently released publications.

For the Power of Facilitation I also continued to work with fellow contributors to promote the book, during Facilitation Week and otherwise, and so to use the book to promote the power of facilitation worldwide. As well as supporting and promoting online ‘meet the author’ sessions and articles, book reviews etc, I supported more than 80 IAF colleagues around the world to convene and start to work to translate the book into more than a dozen languages.

For ICA:UK and ICA International, I also continued to participate in the UK ToP Associates network and the ICAI Global ToP Advisory Group, and latterly in the new ICAI Global ToP Community of Practice.

For IAF, I continued to serve as a mentor in the IAF mentoring programme, working again with two mentees in parallel this past year.

Manal Sayid, Facilitator, Consultant and Trainer, wrote:

“Martin has provided everything I could hope for in a mentorship relationship! He was super helpful in his sharing of relevant resources, his guidance in terms of all the questions I had, and I felt like we built great rapport and therefore could share some challenges and vulnerabilities candidly!”

I began to offer free facilitation coaching in November, which enabled me to support six young people during the year in their work for climate justice, gender equity or anti-racism.

Jacob Warn, Activist, Teacher & Consultant, Europe Must Act, wrote:

“What a fabulous [free facilitation coaching] session! Can I just say on behalf of us all how thankful we are – what an ‘espresso-shot’ of insight and wisdom, it’s really so generous of you to support in this open way and just so appreciated. I can’t wait to explore the various links you’ve shared and reflect more on the questions you’ve prompted, and we would really gladly take up your offer to have another session to workshop our upcoming strategy session in 2022!”

Ukraine anti-war protest, 6 March 2022 in London

I have been glad to be able to support Ukrainian colleagues in Ukraine and elsewhere since the Russian invasion in February, not least as part of a loose network of facilitators, trainers and consultants in Ukraine and around the world that has met weekly online led by ICA USA ToP colleagues of the Global Synergy Group.

I have been awed and inspired by much of the resolve, resistance, solidarity and leadership that I have seen in response to the war, and grateful to those colleagues in Kyiv who have challenged me to realise that every show of support is valued, and that support that is unseen and unheard is no support at all – see Facilitator neutrality in the context of war and oppression #StandWithUkraine.

Join our new Online group, Weekly Online Social and scheduled online events!

For the Gay Outdoor Club I stepped up from my social media support role to launch and co-ordinate a new Online group as well, and to host regular online socials – inspired in no small part by my 5 years of hosting free facilitation meetups of IAF England & Wales. Of course I didn’t join GOC to attend online meetings, least of all to lead them! It has turned out, however, that there is a real interest in connecting, meeting and socialising online, even among members of an outdoor club like GOC, as evidenced by responses to a feedback survey in May. I have been glad to be able to apply my professional skills to support the club and fellow members in this way.

Exploring feminist facilitation

My professional development has been focused largely on Exploring feminist facilitation and, more broadly, how I can ensure that my own practice as a professional facilitator is more effectively and explicitly feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive.

What was most helpful for me in this was participating this year in the 12-week online feminist leadership development programme of We Are Feminist Leaders. This provided me with a comprehensive framework by which to understand what feminism brings to leadership, and thus to facilitation, and also a powerful demonstration of what feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive facilitation can look like in practice.

I have continued to value the professional community and facilitation meetups of IAF England & Wales as a participant, and particularly this year’s hybrid Re-Facilitation Conference which I attended online. I found that an inspiring demonstration of how effective hybrid facilitation can be, even with a minimal budget but at least a collaborative team of experienced facilitators and a lot of good will. It inspired a number of valuable articles and blog posts too, not least from SessionLab the very thorough An honest* guide to planning and facilitating successful hybrid events.

My recent return to in-person working has led me to reflect and draw some initial conclusions on Mitigating COVID risks for in person and hybrid events to inform contracting discussions with future clients and groups.

While for many in the UK the COVID pandemic is effectively over, for others here and elsewhere it clearly isn’t. There are risks to my own work and health to consider as well as those of my clients and groups, and some potential for ethical dilemmas to arise. With a more or less equal mix of online and in-person events in the pipeline for the coming months, I do now feel better prepared to navigate the risks.

I shall certainly take advantage of the autumn booster vaccination promised for over-50s in the UK as soon as that is available. I shall continue to approach opportunities for prospective hybrid events with even greater caution than I did before the pandemic, careful to try to ensure that expectation and ambition are aligned with resources (or vice versa) and that valuable opportunities for asynchronous collaboration are not overlooked in a rush to synchronous hybrid working.

Another rail route that I have been happy to acquaint myself with has been the high-speed line from Paris to Barcelona, after I resolved during something of a sabbatical in Sitges two years ago to try to spend more time there more often. It is a real privilege to be able to work in such a way as to be able to do that, and I am thankful that COVID-related travel disruptions affected our last trip barely at all for the first time since we went back.

Such disruptions did prevent me from taking more than one week of intensive Spanish class while I was there, but I have taken to attending Spanish conversation meetups in London now as well. It was a wet and windy week in the Outer Hebrides this month that distracted me from my daily Duolingo Spanish practice sufficiently to bring and end to more than a year-long streak in the Diamond League – if you are familiar with that little green owl, you may feel my disappointment!

Thank you for following…


See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Are you planning an online conference, Forum or General Assembly?

Free facilitation webinar: Taking your event online: what could possibly go wrong?


Below is a ‘menu of services’ that I have been able to provide to a number of clients planning such online events in recent years. Please contact me as early as you can if you could benefit from such support as you plan, prepare and deliver your own event.

The scope and scale of service delivered for these recent projects has ranged from just a few days of consulting and coaching from myself alone over a week or two, to a larger package of consultation, coaching and Introduction to Facilitation Online training with multiple teams from myself and a co-facilitator over several weeks, to anything from 10 to 50 days or more of comprehensive support over several months from myself and a larger team with diverse skills able to provide many if not all of the menu of services.

Colleagues that I have collaborated with on such projects recently have included Orla Cronin, Marie Dubost, Charo Lanao, Judy Rees, Hector Villarreal Lozoya and Bruno Selun – I am thankful to them for the teamwork that has made many of these projects possible.

Recent such client contracts have included:

  • with Action Aid International, facilitation coaching and support for the Convener, Organising Committee and Governance staff of the Global Secretariat in preparation for sessions of the online 2021 Annual General Meeting
  • with Amnesty International, design and lead facilitation of a series of 17 sessions of the online 2021 Global Assembly, involving a multilingual team of 5 facilitators and 3-4 delegates of each of almost 70 member entities worldwide working in English, French and Spanish
  • with Amnesty International, Europe & Central Asia region, lead design and facilitation of a 4-week online 2021 Regional Forum involving over 100 delegates from around 25 member organisations in over 20 sessions
  • with OMCT, design consulting and facilitation training over 3 months in support of the first online Global Week Against Torture in 2021
  • with Oxfam Ireland, online facilitation training and coaching with staff in Ireland and of six African programme partners, in support of their first online Annual Partnership Meeting together in 2020
  • with the ISEAL Alliance, online facilitation training and coaching in support of their first online ‘Members’ Month’ in 2020
  • with ILGA Europe on behalf of Kumquat Consult, design consulting and facilitation training in support of the first online ILGA Europe 2020 Annual Conference
  • with Amnesty International, design and facilitation of a series of six online Global Strategy Labs involving around 150 delegates representing 70 national entities worldwide working in English, French and Spanish in 2020
  • with the Amnesty International Europe & Central Asia region, lead design and facilitation of a 3-day online 2020 Regional Forum involving over 100 delegates from around 25 member organisations – blog post
  • with FAO, design and facilitation of the 2015 online conference “Economics of Climate Change Mitigation Options in the Forest Sector” engaging over 900 international experts – case study

“Martin and his team provided outstanding support during Amnesty International’s 2021 Global Assembly which for the first time was held entirely online. They were integral in the planning of the model which helped to ensure broad participation and access for delegates of almost 70 member entities. Their experience and familiarity with facilitating online spaces were game changing and were critical in helping to build trust in the process and in a new model of digital governance.” – Ann Burroughs, Chair of the 2021 Global Assembly and Preparatory Committee, Amnesty International – Sep 16, 2021

“Together with other folks at the Kumquat team Martin helped us to organize the ILGA-Europe Gathering Online 2020. Organizing a large event online for the first time came with many questions and challenges. Martin particularly helped us with providing training and assistance to put together the flow of the programme and to ensure that we were ready to facilitate the many spaces that our event was made up with. It was a pleasure working with Martin!” – Björn van Roozendaal, Programmes Director at ILGA-Europe – Feb 25, 2021

“In November 2020, Martin provided invaluable support to Oxfam Ireland in the build-up to a series of multi-stakeholder online workshops. He provided tailored ‘coaching sessions’ to our team, which helped us to prepare and deliver several engaging virtual sessions. These sessions directly catered to our needs, building our ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ virtual facilitation skills and knowledge. Furthermore, he also co-facilitated an in-house “Introduction to Facilitation Online” workshop with colleagues across Southern and Eastern Africa. This excellent workshop was well received by all participants. Thanks, Martin!” – Rosa Brandon, Programme Quality Officer at Oxfam Ireland – Feb 22, 2021

“WOW! Awesome contributions from 200+ participants at the #ECCMOFS REDD+ online conference session. Feeling inspired @FAOForestry”  – Ruth Mallett, Consultant at UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) – February 13, 2013


Menu of services

Before

Project management: We can work with you to clearly define the project and its boundaries, starting from a clear purpose statement (including outputs and outcomes) that will help align your various stakeholders’ expectations of the event. We can help you make it operational by translating it into a clear project plan and division of responsibilities, and we can accompany you in delivery.

We will recommend using an online project management tool across the entire team (internal and external) to achieve and maintain this throughout – we can provide and support you to use Basecamp or Asana, or join an existing platform you’re already using internally, or we can support you to acquire and use your own platform. Such a platform will be crucial to deliver such a complex project on schedule.

Conceptualisation: Support for the overall design and conceptualisation of a coherent event, including flow, timing, duration and format to maximise engagement and participation to best meet your aims and ambitions within your constraints, including budget and capacity. We can help you to identify what types of sessions should be offered (including format, degree of participation, types of outcomes, etc.), allowing you to then populate the programme using those session types.

Participation design: We can work with you to identify what sort of participation (how much, how broad, how deep) each session type will require, and the number of participants expected or desired. These will make up the event’s participation requirements, which with security & accessibility requirements will allow us to advise which service(s), platform(s) and/or tool(s) you should consider.

Session call & selection: We can support you in the setup and running of a session call, proposal and selection system for submitters, reviewers and decision-makers – including technical support, training and assistance

Communication: We can advise you on how and when to communicate with prospective and confirmed participants, session leaders, speakers and other stakeholders in order to manage their expectations and preparations in alignment with those of the event as a whole.

Platform selection & setup: We can help you in researching and reviewing available options and selecting an online event platform to meet your specific requirements, including in relation to security, pricing, functionality and much more. We can help you with setup and troubleshooting of your selected platform, including the pre-registration, registration, event and post-event phases

Additional tools: Depending on your requirements and choice of platform, we can support you to select, configure and use additional tools for participant inclusion and engagement, e.g. for interpretation, voting, Q&A, brainstorming, visualisation, networking etc.

Facilitation training & coaching: We can help you determine how to best recruit additional facilitators if needed, whether volunteers or professionals. We can design and deliver bespoke facilitation training, drawing on a range of existing and well-established training modules (see above). We can offer tailored coaching & troubleshooting sessions for session facilitators and producers, individually or in pairs or small teams, to support them in their session design and preparation.

Technical preparation: We can help you with the technical preparation of your team, speakers and moderators to run their sessions through the event platform – technical checks, testing all platforms & tools used to ensure they’re familiar with them on the day

During

Technical support (a.k.a. production): On-call technical support for the full duration of the event, both inside and between sessions, to ensure everything goes according to plan, and to deliver backup solutions in the event of a failure (e.g. if a speaker or session leader can’t connect)

Facilitation support: We can help by facilitating or producing particular sessions or parts of sessions for you, or the whole event, or by co-facilitating or co-producing to support your own session teams to do so

After

Evaluation: Design, delivery and analysis of a bespoke evaluation survey to collect actionable feedback from your participants regarding what went well, what didn’t, and how to improve future events


See also free facilitation webinars including:

See also about mehow I work and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Free facilitation coaching for youth social justice and sustainability work

Amnesty International Activism Hackathon, 2017 in London - photo Amnesty, facilitation Martin Gilbraith #ToPfacilitation 3


Could you use some support to address a facilitation question or challenge you are facing, to design or prepare an upcoming workshop or process, or to reflect and learn from some recent experience?

Are you up to 35 years old and using facilitation in your work for climate justice, gender equity or anti-racism, or otherwise in response to systemic injustice and oppression or toward achieving a just and sustainable world for all?

If so, read on and feel free to request a first free facilitation coaching session via my online scheduling calendar below.

If you are over 35, working on something else or able to pay, if you are interested in coaching for others or in longer-term support for your professional development as a facilitator, please contact me to ask about my availability and rates for paid facilitation coaching and mentoring – including discounted rates for voluntary organisations & independent professionals.

Free facilitation coaching

I am happy to offer, free of charge:

  • up to three online sessions of up to 45 minutes each, over up to six weeks
  • support for you only, or for you plus one or two others sharing the same question or challenge
  • to review any material that you share in confidence with me in advance of each session
  • to listen actively with curiosity, care and respect
  • to ask questions, to support you to reflect and learn from your experience and come to your own conclusions or solutions
  • to offer feedback and ideas from my experience, and refer you to any relevant resources and sources of support that I can.

In return, I hope that I may be inspired by your work and that I may learn from your experience.  If you find the coaching helpful, I shall be grateful for a short recommendation outlining how it helped.

Rosa BrandonRosa Brandon, Programme Quality Officer at Oxfam Ireland, wrote Feb 22, 2021:

“Martin provided invaluable support to Oxfam Ireland in the build-up to a series of multi-stakeholder online workshops. He provided tailored ‘coaching sessions’ to our team, which helped us to prepare and deliver several engaging virtual sessions. These sessions directly catered to our needs, building our ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ virtual facilitation skills and knowledge. Thanks, Martin!”

Request a first free session

Please scroll down in my scheduling calendar to request a first free session from 2-10 days ahead:


I may cancel your session if your request or eligibility is unclear or if my availability changes. Please give at least 24 hours notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment for any reason, and I shall do the same for you.

If you do not find a suitable session time available, please try again after a few days or more. Please contact me with any queries.


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.