How engaging can a virtual meeting be? Join us to share and learn!

Our world and our client groups are increasingly moving online, so as facilitators we must be prepared move with them.  Virtual meetings can have advantages over face-to-face, but disadvantages too – not least, shorter attention spans and greater potential for distractions. How can we keep people engaged and focused when meeting online?

In this highly participatory, facilitated webinar hosted by IAF India, Martin Farrell & Martin Gilbraith of IAF England & Wales and Catherine Tornbom of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative share some top tips and practical examples from their own experience and that of other professional facilitators, and invite you to share your some of your own experience and create your own top tips together. We also seek to demonstrate in the webinar itself just how engaging a virtual meeting can be!

Martin Farrell CPF has been facilitating international gatherings since his first assignment with the UN in 2002. Now entering his 6th decade of engagement with civil society organisations in the UK and internationally, he is in demand worldwide as a facilitator and moderator of conferences, meetings and groups large and small. He established his own consultancy, Get2thepoint, in 1999. He continues to play an active part in the vibrant worldwide community of facilitators having been Regional Director (Europe, Middle East, North Africa) of the International Association of Facilitators for three years to 2015.

Martin Gilbraith CPF CTF is an independent facilitator, trainer and consultant based in London. He is an IAF ‘Hall of Famer” and former IAF Chair and IAF Europe Director. He is former President of the Institute of Cultural Affairs International (ICAI), and an Associate and former Chief Executive of ICA:UK. He has been facilitating, specializing in ICA’s ToP facilitation methodology, since he began his career as an international volunteer with ICA India in 1986-87.

Catherine Tornbom CTF is a seasoned consultant, mediator, and Mentor Trainer with ICA-USA. She has successfully resolved issues involving management team conflict, poor communication, productivity roadblocks and stress in her professional work with clients ranging from government, business, nonprofits, education, and community collaboration. She is a partner in the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative supporting virtual teams to achieve their goals through effective online collaboration.


Thank you to the IAF India team for their invitation and to my co-hosts Martin Farrell of get2thepoint and Catherine Tornbom and Sunny Walker of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative. Thanks also to all those who participated, and live tweeted on the #FacInd hashtag.

Session materials & additional resources shared include:


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

Another summer, another year of freelance facilitation

IAF India Conference, 2017 in Chennai - photo IAF India, facilitation Martin Gilbraith #ToPfacilitation #IAFIndia17 1

Another summer means another opportunity to pause and reflect, as in June I completed my fifth year in business as Martin Gilbraith Associates Ltd.  The image from last year’s IAF India conference in Chennai is of my plenary session subtitled “Reviewing the past to prepare for the future“. Like every good ORID process, a reflection or review must start with Objective level data.

The data tell me that in 2017-18 I have delivered 20 contracts for 16 clients in 6 countries, involving 20 face-to-face events and one virtual event and 10 facilitated processes and 11 facilitation training courses. Also that I spent 56 nights away from home, 3 in the UK and 53 abroad. That compares to 26 contracts involving 35 events in the previous year, and over the 5 complete years a total of 90 contracts to 53 clients in 18 countries involving 121 events – 109 face-to-face and 12 virtual, 69 facilitation and 52 training.  So it has been another busy year, albeit not quite such a bumper year as the previous, and a marked increase in the proportion of training to facilitation contracts.

Returning clients in the past year have included Amnesty InternationalGirls Not BridesLorensbergsOxfamWells for India and of course ICA:UK, and new clients have included the AlternativeArticle19CCLEdringtonEFFAEPIMGCFJMIC and NNC. So I have continued to work largely with international NGOs, foundations, associations, networks and alliances, largely in Europe and the Middle East and particularly in London and Brussels. However, the NGOs continue to include more campaigning as well as international development and humanitarian, the Associations continue to include industries as well as NGO networks, and new fields for me this year include Scotch whiskey, Danish politics and global catastrophic risks!

Somewhat fewer contracts this year has allowed somewhat more time for business and professional development.

In new partnerships with ICA:UK and ICA Associates I have extended my schedule of public facilitation training to include dates in London and Birmingham as well as Brussels and new courses of the new IAF-endorsed ‘ToP Facilitation Essentials’ programme, Meetings That Work and Facilitating Client Collaboration.

My networking and volunteering has been focused primarily on IAF England & Wales, where four regional groups totaling around 750 members are now hosting 5 or 6 meetups every month around the country, led by a virtual leadership team that meets monthly online. I finally joined IABC as a member this year, and became more active with IABC UK as well as presenting at EuroComm18 in Copenhagen, after collaborating for some years to build an informal partnership between IABC and IAF that resulted this year in a more formal MoU at the EMENA level.

I have also enjoyed opportunities to participate in and lead sessions at IAF conferences and events  during the year in Australia, Canada, France, India & Jordan, and at ICA regional gatherings in Nepal and Poland as well as in the UK.  I have been pleased to have been able to host five free facilitation webinars during the year, with colleagues of all of these networks that I respect very much. I am very excited to have begun collaborating with IABC past-President Michael Ambjorn and more than a dozen other IAF colleagues to co-author a book on the Power of Facilitation – for more as the project develops, follow us at @FacPower.

Since last summer’s 5-year review of participant feedback on my ToP facilitation courses, taster sessions & webinars I have been requesting post-course feedback 3-4 months after every training, so I hope to share some insights from that as well before long. Other substantial additions to this site during the year have included a series of cases studies on Responding to changing situations and needs with ToP Consensus Workshop, a new image gallery and (of course!) a Privacy policy.

With five public courses and half a dozen client contracts already in the pipeline for the autumn, another webinar and another IAF India conference and of course International Facilitation Week in Birmingham, it looks like there will continue to be plenty to blog about when I can find the time. Thank you for following!


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

Facilitating positive transformation: Reviewing the past to prepare for the future at #IAFIndia17

IAF India conference 2017Thank you to everyone who participated in my plenary session at this year’s IAF India conference in Chennai today – Facilitation: the key to positive transformation#IAFIndia17.

In the session, Facilitating positive transformation: Reviewing the past to prepare for the future, I demonstrated a participatory approach for a group to review the past, to prepare for the future, by applying the ToP (Technology of Participation) Historical Scan method to reflect together on the unfolding history of participation and facilitation in India and beyond. I also shared some insights into the theory behind the method, and examples of the method in action. Participants had a brief opportunity to reflect on how they might apply the method.

Here I am sharing links to some resources and case studies that I mentioned during the session, and some that I didn’t, plus (below) some some tweets from the session.

ToP Historical Scan method

Examples of the method in action

  • etf20Adapt • Invent • Evolve: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at the IABC EMENA 2017 conference in London, #EuroComm17 – blog post
  • Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20 – case study
  • Transformational Strategy: from trepidation to ‘unlocked’ with IDMC in Geneva – case study
  • Staff Away Day with George House Trust in Manchester – case study
  • Clinical Leadership Evaluation and Development with Manchester Primary Care Trust – case study

Facilitation history

  • How has facilitation developed over time, and where might it be heading? A six-month collaborative process to develop our collective story of facilitation, as IAF celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014 – blog post, plus #FacHistory on twitter and  storify
  • Reviewing the past to prepare for the future: #FacHistory at the IAF EMENA 2014 conference in Copenhagen, #IAFEMENA14 – blog post
  • Reflections on the history of professional process facilitation, an article by Richard Chapman published by IAF Europe & AMED in 2011 – pdf
  • The past, present & future of the facilitation profession: Reviewing the past to prepare for the future at the IAF Europe 2007 conference in Edinburgh – (pdf)

ToP facilitation training & sticky walls

  • Join me for ToP facilitation training in Brussels & London (2018 dates to be scheduled soon) – blog
  • Join ICA India or other ICAs worldwide for ToP facilitation training near you
  • Sticky walls are available from ICA:UK and other ICAs, and in India from BangOn Facilitation.


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Four hands on the steering wheel? Co-facilitation in action

Thank you to all who attended yesterdays’ facilitation webinar for IAF India, and especially to Preetha Raghav and the IAF India team for their invitation and support and to my co-hosts Martin Farrell of get2thepoint and Sunny Walker of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative. It was a rich and engaging session for us, so I hope also for others. Thanks also to those who live tweeted on the #FacInd hashtag – a couple of their tweets are below.

Martin Farrell wrote “As we see some world leaders promoting division and hatred, facilitators’ skills of collaboration are ever more essential. Yes we practice listening deeply to our client’s needs, and engaging participants. To challenge ourselves, let’s also take our skills to the next level by practicing co-facilitation. There are great benefits and also great dangers.”

This highly interactive 90-minute session was hosted in Adobe Connect to offer an experience of co-facilitation in a virtual environment. We offered a framework and some tips and tools for co-facilitation, illustrated by a case study.

Session materials & additional resources shared include:


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

ICAI welcomes a new Associate member in Poland!

ICAI Global Buzz, October 2015
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, November 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


anna-zaremba-1200x900Seventeen representatives of 11 member ICAs of our global network participated in two online General Assembly meetings on October 20, and 16 of 24 current statutory member ICAs voted in the online GA poll over the following ten days to 30 October.  Thank you again to all who participated!

As a result of the GA we are pleased to welcome another new Associate member to ICAI, nominated by ICA:UK with the support of ICA Ukraine & ICA Netherlands and approved unanimously by the GA – Focus Homini Poland is a newly constituted group of five ICA colleagues working to establish ICA in Poland – the photo shows Anna Zaremba facilitating at one of the group’s Warsaw facilitation meetups.

Also as a result of the GA we are pleased to congratulate Archana Deshmukh of ICA India and Gerd Luders of ICA Chile, who have been unanimously elected to our global Board from January (from 2017-20), and to Seva Gandhi of ICA USA who has been re-elected to serve another two years (2017-18).  Archana and Gerd will succeed Martin Gilbraith of ICA:UK and Staci Kentish of ICA Canada, who will complete their terms this December.

During the GA meetings members also received brief narrative & financial reports from the Board, and deliberated on the ICAI 2017-18 budget, the Board nominations process and options for a future ICAI global conference.

ICA International Board update, September 2016

ICAI Global Buzz, October 2015
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, September 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


1608 ICA E&S AFrica 720x480At our August meeting the ICAI Board approved three applications for financial support from members. The first was to support the ICA East & Southern Africa regional gathering and ToP facilitation training hosted by ICA Uganda in August – see photo, with thanks to Larry Philbrook. The second was to support the ICA Asia Pacific regional gathering and training to be hosted by ICA India in December. The third was for purchase of a World Foundations Guide for use by members.

The Board is expecting an application soon for the West & Central Africa ICA regional gathering to be hosted by ICA Togo in October. Board members agreed to consult with members in their regions to help to arrange an additional French speaking ToP trainer to provide ToP training in conjunction with the gathering.

The Board heard that groups in Poland and France are working toward submitting applications to join our global network as Associate Members at the next General Assembly on October 20. We heard that several individuals in the Philippines have expressed an interest in re-connecting with ICA and perhaps re-establishing ICA there.

The Board heard that the new joint working group of ICAI and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) had held its first meeting and begun its work of exploring opportunities for great mutual interchange, co-ordination and collaboration between our two organisations and facilitation communities.

The Board reviewed the Board election process and papers that had been prepared by the Board nominations and elections committee in preparation for elections at the October 20 General Assembly. Board members confirmed their own intentions on completing their terms, standing for re-election or standing down. Board members will support the committee in soliciting nominations for candidates directly with members in their regions.

ICAI General Assembly welcomes new Associate member in India

HCDI CFCDP
This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, July 2016.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a global community of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide. The ICAI network comprises member organisations and related groups in over 40 countries.  The role of ICA International is to facilitate peer-to-peer interchange, learning and mutual support across the network, for greater and deeper impact. ICA International maintains consultative status with UN ECOSOC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO & FAO.


Twenty-two representatives of 14 member ICAs of our global network participated in two online General Assembly meetings on June 23, and 17 of 22 current statutory member ICAs voted in the online GA poll over the following 10 days to 3 July.  Thank you to all who participated!

As a result of the GA, we are pleased to welcome another new Associate member to ICAI, nominated by ICA Japan with the support of ICA IndiaICA Bangladesh and the Asia Pacific region and approved unanimously by the GA – Holistic Child Development India (HCDI) is a long-term partner of ICA Japan in Bihar.

During the GA meetings we heard updates from ICAI and from the regions, and from those members present. We deliberated on recommendations of the ICAI Global ToP (Technology of Participation) policy working group – to establish internationally recognized ToP trainer competencies and criteria, to build ToP trainer training capacity globally, to develop global ToP resource repositories and to set up a global ToP co-ordination structure. We also deliberated on options for a next ICAI Global Conference, and we heard of strengthening relations between ICA and Initiatives of Change as a potential conference partner, particularly in Asia and in Europe.

The Board consulted with members on options for the 2017  ICAI budget, and on plans for ICAI Board elections at the next GA in October. Nominations to join the Board elections & nominations committee are now invited from members.