Planning appropriate process for a particular group and meeting starts with taking time to think through the results the group needs, both the product and how the experience needs to affect them. Then the length of time the group can meet together to reach the result, how many and how people will be participating.
Once the details of the meeting are articulated, you can choose methods or processes for the session.
A long verbal discussion, for example, might work when people are all in the same room, but will not be effective when people are online – people are more likely to be distracted. Quiet people are more likely to be forgotten in a virtual meeting without a process that engages them in small group or visual activities.
Face-to Face Meetings
Most group processes were originally designed for face-to-face meetings. A very good starting point if you are looking for an appropriate process or facilitation tool is this list, with thumbnail descriptions and sources for more information. Although this was compiled before online meetings were the norm, many of these facilitation tools are easily adapted to online use.
The experience of the pandemic, with many people working virtually, has catalyzed great creativity and learning in planning and using group processes online. Last year, more than a hundred people contributed to articulating what works in online processes through our Community of Practice. A summary of the results of their work is on our website. The IAF Methods Library
also can be searched for online tools or adaptations of the nearly 600 methods on the site. Session Lab also has both f2f and virtual tools.
An interesting resource recommended to me by a participant in one of our online Community of Practice sessions is Rituals for Virtual Meetings: Creative Ways to Engage People and Strengthen Relationships by Kursat Ozenc and Glenn Fajardo, published by John Wiley and Sons, 2021. There are many activities here that address the human or “whole person” side of facilitation that is often missing in onine meetings. And many are just plain fun!
As the pandemic begins to get under control, many organizations will move to have some people working face-to-face with others remotely. The next challenge is to work out the best way to have effective participatory work in hybrid meetings, with some online and some in a meeting room together. Experience and reflection on how hybrid meetings work best is growing.
We are working on a methods list for online process tools (not platforms, but processes that can be used with online and hybrid groups). We would like your contributions from your experience.