Facilitation begins before the meeting invite?

I  observed a workshop that was meant to be attended by 20 people but only a handful had turned up. This is not only a waste of time for an organization, but also sends many silent messages. Communication breakdown, incompetency, lack of interest, weak leadership and the list goes on and on. The old “first impressions last forever” is irreversible…

If you have ever facilitated a workshop you know your “sleep at night factor (SANF)” the evening before. If you have planned everything well you are in a position to steer the workshop on the front foot. If you haven’t planned well you can often fall into the trap of reacting (on the back foot) or even worse defending yourself which completely undermines the workshop and erodes your credibility as a facilitator
I have met both introvert and extrovert facilitators but the thing that the successful ones have in common is “early engagement“. If you had a choice of receiving an invite to a workshop via email vs a phone call from someone explaining the need to have the workshop first, I’m pretty sure most people would appreciate a phone call first then the email invite.
Early engagement sends a message of care, consideration, respect and gives the attendee a sense of belonging. It also provides a facilitator another level of engagement during the session…for example…”Thats a great point Mary. Peter had a similar view when I spoke to him during the set up of the workshop. lets explore how we can take that further” This simple technique has allowed me to build the “collective intent” before I start my sessions…
Where do you start to build the “collective intent”? At the start of your workshop or before?

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