What were you doing 30-days ago?

I don’t know about you, but a short 30-days ago feels like months in the past to me, given all the rapid change and complexity we’ve been faced with in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

My calendar shows a 3-day event in Austin, where the XChange community of facilitators planned to connect with and learn from each other, as well as co-design upcoming events we were hosting. That in-person event was canceled, just days before it was scheduled to take place, as were most (if not all) in-person events for most of us into the foreseeable future. 

Times like these can certainly be challenging and present us with obstacles that seem insurmountable. 

But, it is also a time that invites all of us to be more creative, innovative and supportive than ever before. 

What happened to our 3-day event in Austin? The XChange team stepped up and in less than 48-hours had completely transitioned the entire event to an online experience. More than 30 high performing, female entrepreneurs gathered virtually to participate and their feedback was off the charts positive! 

Since then, our team at XChange has facilitated over 10,000 conversations in the online environment to support teams, organizations and communities in delivering solutions for two of the most critical needs right now – Connection and Learning.

It’s no secret that social isolation is just that – socially isolating. It’s sure to create a lasting impact on a great many people. As a species, we crave human interaction and right now, most of us aren’t getting that.

How might we best create connections between the people in our lives that matter most – family, friends, co-workers and colleagues? 

It’s also no secret that things are changing fast, perhaps too fast. New information continues to emerge, which informs our thinking and how we develop strategy on an almost hourly basis. There hasn’t been a time in modern history where we’ve had to deal with an accelerated rate of change this significant and we’re really only starting to have an early understanding of how our society will function following this pandemic.

How might we best amplify and share what we’re all learning through this experience, to help solve the challenges we’re facing right now? 

Those who lead or manage professional associations and networking groups are in a unique position to help deliver on these two needs for their communities and create massive value and loyalty in the process.

At Insight Solutions, we’ve had significant learning over the past several weeks and continue to learn every day about how to effectively lead and facilitate events online.

In fact, later this week we’ll be supporting an event to share what we’ve learned over the course of a 2-day online event with over 200 of the most influential meeting planners from around the world. 

Immediately following that, we’ll support a training for 100 of our own XChange community members. A training in online facilitation that was built in just the last few weeks. And guess what we’ll be doing immediately following that… bringing our leadership team together to share what we’ve learned, implement changes and enhance the training before we do it all over again two weeks later! 

There’s never been a time where we’ve learned so much, so fast.
And this is the time where it’s more important than ever to share what we’re learning with each other.  

“In a complex environment, we must change from ‘knowledge is power’ to ‘sharing is power’.” 

– Chris Fussell, President of McChrystal Group and former Navy SEAL

Follow these steps to lead a highly relevant and valuable event for your own association or community members. Not only will it create the much needed connection we are all craving, but it will also create space for everyone to learn from each other and get helpful information for some of the biggest questions they have right now! 

What follows is a playbook for a 90-minute, online, facilitated experience. We’d love for you to take and implement this on your own… but if facilitating on Zoom, sending people in and out of virtual breakout rooms isn’t your thing… no problem! 

For a limited time we are offering our services free of charge to deliver this event for you, just submit this simple form

Start by Acknowledging the Current Situation

One of the things we’ve learned very quickly is that when convening groups of people during this time of social isolation, you must acknowledge and recognize the challenges and unique circumstances that everyone is dealing with right now. If you jump right into a meeting or discussion topic, without first creating space to recognize what everyone is dealing with, you risk coming across as tone deaf. 

Use this simple 3-step process to start your event with success: 

  1. Recognize the fact that everyone is dealing with challenging circumstances and express your gratitude for them making the time to show up and participate in the event.
  2. Establish a positive mindset, which research shows increases creativity and innovation. Start by creating space to share wins and ask your participants to reflect on and share something they are proud of, something they’ve learned or any other win that is especially meaningful right now. 
  3. Create meaning by asking participants if they noticed any themes or common threads among the answers shared or if anything they heard inspired them. This reinforces what was just shared and also creates shared value between the participants, creating a strong connection at the outset of your event. 
Next, Deliver Inspiration

Build on the positive mindset you just created with inspiration. Ask your participants this question, one we shared in a recent post about bringing your team to life in times of uncertainty

Share a real life story or example of anything you’ve witnessed in the past week that gives you a sense of pride in humanity.

This question just builds on what was established in the opening session and washes away all the negativity, pain, fear and frustration we are constantly bombarded with through the media. 

As participants continue to move through this carefully choreographed conversation, they will create deep connections and rapidly establish psychological safety within the digital meeting space. All of this allows you to finish strong by creating massive value. 

Finish Strong with Value

We suggested above that connection and learning are what everyone needs the most right now. You’ve delivered on connection through facilitating several powerful conversations. Now it’s time to finish strong by creating value for everyone in attendance in the form of learning

One of the things we specialize in is unlocking collective wisdom through the crowdsourcing of ideas. This means we recognize there is a deep intelligence that resides within each person in the room, whether it’s a virtual meeting room or in-person. Our process is specially designed to tap into each person’s individual strengths and then amplify them for everyone’s benefit. 

One of the questions that we’ve had great success with recently, across many different types of groups and organizations is: 

How might you be creative, innovative, generous and supportive to your team, your clients, the community and even yourself during this challenging time? 

Talk about valuable learning! We’re sure your participants will love what they hear and come away fully inspired with pages of notes. You may even learn a thing or two in the process!

Put this strategy into play on your own or reach out to Insight Solutions for support, we’re here to help! 


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