I prepared a 54-page Facilitator’s Guide for the workshop this week, a master list of materials, a session-by-session description of what job aids to make in advance of the event, and a mock-up of every flipchart we would have to draw on site. We had a detailed facilitation agenda, and a script ready for each session that would be lead, we even had a minute-by-minute design for our pre-event facilitation briefing.
However, in the instructions I created to help prepare our 8-person facilitation team, one piece of guidance was clearly missing – take care of your health.
I didn’t say, make sure to get good sleep in the week before you come, take your vitamins, drink plenty of water, and don’t stay out too late. I didn’t say, don’t try to get absolutely everything out of the way in the nights before you take that transcontinental overnight flight, and don’t cut it too close on arrival so you can rest before we start our very full programme of activities.
Maybe Facilitators think they are a bit super human, dealing with the emotions of large crowds, handling stressful environments, holding the hopes and dreams and fears of a group of passionate people, getting up early and staying up late setting up the room and moving dozens of chairs, or running miles to find hotel staff and trying for the 100th time to get them to turn off the aircon in the room.
But on our preparation list in the future must absolutely be the husbanding of our own resources in the days before a big event, and during it. Otherwise, we risk being taken out by an opportunistic bug, wicked jet lag exacerbated by sleep deprivation, or worse. And while it is no fun for us, it is also no fun for our team members and our partners.
It hit home again today, I am not sick myself, but as the leader of the facilitation team and seeing it around me, I am sorry that I didn’t write that note. And at the same time wonder, even if I did, if the Facilitation Team members would have done something different in preparing themselves for this event? I know this community. I write this at nearly midnight in Bangkok after a long long day, and after promising myself an early night.
Once I push “Publish” I’m off to bed, I promise myself, to take my own good advice…