Entries by Gillian


A Year Reflected in Numbers: What I Learned from Facilitating Over 240 Hours of Virtual Workshops in 2021

(photo credit: Marc-Olivier Jodoin, Unsplash) Inspired by Oliver Burkeman’s Book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, I reflected over the New Year about how I had spent the last 12 months of my professional life. The concept of “4,000 weeks”, that make up (on average) an entire life,  provided a useful lens for envisioning […]

New to the Zoom Tech Host Role? What to Expect Behind the Scenes (and where to ask for help)

Virtual workshops need a team to produce them behind the scenes. One person will struggle to do everything quickly and smoothly, and it is nearly impossible to both do the technical hosting and be the participant-facing facilitator if your design is at all complex (interpretation, breakouts, trouble shooting, spotlighting, music, videos, using tools like MURAL, […]

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Using Systems Thinking Games in Online Environments: Triangles Virtual Makeover

This post is generally translating “serious games” (games with learning messages) that we normally play in face-to-face settings into versions that can be played in a Zoom or other online evironment. Here I am writing specifically about games in the Systems Thinking Playbook and the Climate Change Playbook, the latter of which I wrote with […]

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“Have Fun in Japan!” Getting Yourself Ready to Work for 3 Days in Another Timezone (without actually going there)

This post isn’t about how to run training in Japan, it’s about how to get your body ready to do training in Japan, if you live 7 time zones away in Switzerland. Normally, I would be enjoying a Bento box right now in Tokyo, preparing with my Japanese co-trainer, the interpretation team, and colleagues there […]


Running an Open Space Technology (inspired) Session Online Using Zoom Breakouts for a Large-Scale Community Learning and Good Practice Exchange

  If you can’t run your Open Space session in real life (like this), how can you do it virtually? This is a very detailed account of how to use Zoom and the Breakout room function to replicate Open Space Technology-like sessions online. Executive Summary: You can run Open Space Technology (OST)-inspired Sessions in Zoom […]


Здравствуйте / Hello Bi-Lingual Zoom Meetings? It’s Possible! Tips for Working Effectively with Simultaneous Interpretation in Zoom

(Note: This blog post is long and detailed, and really only for facilitators or hosts who want to run bi-lingual meetings in Zoom. I’m capturing this learning mostly for myself so I can use it easily next time, and I’m happy to share with others exploring this useful functionality of Zoom. Feel free to ask […]


F2F or Virtual? Not Always So Different – Workshops are a Means to an End

There is an excited flurry of activity right now among meeting, workshop and conference organizers -and their facilitators -as travel restrictions due to the coronavirus cause cancellations of face-to-face (F2F) meeting formats. Planning meeting agendas are being taken over with the exploration of different technologies, tools and platforms to help hold these events virtually. But […]


No Flipcharts at No-Fly Workshops – Using Google Docs and Google Sheets to Capture Virtual Group Work Effectively

(Note from Gillian: This is a very long, detailed, and rather geeky post. I write this as I have been asked a few times recently for “how to” information on how to set up these kinds of group work templates for virtual workshops.) As we get more comfortable with getting work done collectively through No-Fly […]

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It’s Always Time for Planning – Will Your’s Be Strategic?

No matter what your financial or calendar year looks like, there’s always time for planning!  Woo hoo! What are we going to do next year? You certainly have some options – you could do it strategically or unstrategically. What exactly is unstrategic planning? Here’s how you might go about doing that… No big picture thinking needed: Don’t bother […]

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Design Thinking Insights: Are You Limiting Your Own Ideation Process?

I just finished From Ideas to Action: Bring ideas to life through Ideation and Prototyping – my first of two courses with IDEO U for the IDEO Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate. The final project for this online course, run over 5 weeks with hundreds of participants from all over the world, was to create […]

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What’s in a Brick? Using LEGO® for Serious Stuff

One of the hardest things about using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method (LSP) is just getting people to try it! Imagine walking into the workshop room and sitting down at  your spot to see, with your water glass, pen and paper, a small mixed bag of 48 LEGO® bricks – a LEGO® Exploration Kit. What’s running through […]

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Not Lost in Translation: Running Interactive Workshops in a Language You Don’t Speak!

As trainers and facilitators, we need not necessarily be confined to working in our native languages. We have probably all had experiences working with translators (who translate the written word) for materials and interpreters (who translate the spoken word) in meetings using both simultaneous and sequential interpretation. But normally these opportunities are confined to more […]


The Great January Clear Out: Managing Stuff

It’s January again and I find myself compulsively clearing my desk and going through my cupboards and drawers. Reaching the bottom of piles of papers, looking in the backs of deep shelves and under things, I unroll tubes of flip chart papers, and sort through piles of “filing” that hasn’t yet been done. I archive […]


Using Serious Games: Seven Tips for New Game Administrators

We just completed our Bright Green Learning Academy training course on “Using Interactive, Experiential Learning Games in Meetings to Communicate Messages (and have fun!)”  and part of our course includes selecting, adapting or making a new game and running it for the group – going through the stages of game administration: Preparation (parameters, people, space, materials, […]

Using Systems Thinking to see the bigger picture

Working with complexity and uncertainty seems to be a feature of everyday life in our organisations and projects. There are undoubtedly great, daunting challenges presented by working within systems that seem to be constantly changing and have many moving parts. Thankfully, there are also useful tools that can help us think through what is going […]

What I learned at the Academy – Michelle Cartín

Michelle Cartín, Project Manager – events and congresses. Former Deputy Forum Manager, IUCN World Conservation Congress One of my most interesting and challenging roles was Pavilions Project Manager for the 2016 IUCN Congress, which attracted around 8,000 participants. The thematic pavilions, centred on themes from youth to marine conservation, are where delegates can explore the […]

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The Last Mile for Learning

You just finished your exciting learning workshop, the walls are plastered with carefully completed templates, there is a stack of A3 sheets from group work, a pile of cards that captured individual reflections to salient questions, e-templates were filled in. Learning was captured, key messages identified, ideas prioritized. Lots of learning and exchange filled the […]

Collaboration with Bright Green Learning – interview with Brian McKenna

Brian McKenna, Deputy Director, Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) In October, the RHSC held its 17th General Membership Meeting in Seattle for 330 participants from 43 countries. Evaluations from last year’s meeting told us participants wanted a more interactive event with more technical sessions and opportunities for discussion. We needed to be innovative – to […]

Up your networking during workshop downtime

As event hosts and organisers do you focus all your energy on designing the official programme? If so, you’re missing out. Workshops large or small offer plenty of opportunity to network ‘around the edges’ of formal sessions – during coffee breaks, meal times or waiting for sessions to start. Think how many people pass each […]

The Parachuted Presenter’s Promise

You have received an invitation to fly to another continent to deliver a one-hour training presentation within the context of a longer, carefully designed workshop, on an important subject that you know a great deal about. You are a Parachuted Presenter, dropping in to share some wisdom that can be helpful, hopefully, to the group as […]


Why Am I Playing (and Loving) Pokemon Go? Confessions of an Adult Learning Practitioner

Released in early July, Pokemon Go – the new location-based, augmented reality game – has been the perfect summer-time companion. It gets people outdoors and moving around day or night. But is it just a walk-around-and-catch-monsters-in-your-backyard game? Maybe I am just rationalizing the hours of playing (that’s me above, Level 20!), but I see some interesting […]

What I learned at the Academy – Christian Kranicke

Christian Kranicke, Founder and CEO, Leading Edge Advisors There are markets and countries where people have very limited access to basic financial services. With the technology available today this is simply inadmissible. I work to change this situation and empower individuals by building Digital Finance Solution (DFS) businesses in frontier economies and emerging markets. By […]