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Assembling a Facilitator’s Toolkit

Assembling a Facilitator’s Toolkit

You never know when you will need resources to make a meeting run well. I carry in my car a well-stocked, traveling toolkit for facilitating meetings on the spot. My Boy Scout leader taught me to “be prepared,” and prepared I am.

Be Prepared

I cannot count the times I attend a meeting and discover the planners forgot to bring materials for recording results. I dig into my briefcase. Out come artist tape (better for walls than masking tape); brightly colored non-toxic, unscented markers; and my personal favorite–giant post-it notes.

My briefcase is heavy. Besides worn copies of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Ulysses by James Joyce, I carry a laser pointer, a spare thumb drive, and a corkscrew. Hey, I never know when I’ll be called upon to facilitate a meeting or open a bottle of wine. Optional for the briefcase: a bottle of wine.

In my car, I keep large flip chart paper (24” x 36”), a collapsible tripod, flower vases with artificial flowers, and a handful of brightly colored table cloths. I have a large screen projector, extension cords, and mini-speakers in my office closet. I’m ready to go for the next facilitation gig. Assemble your own facilitator’s toolkit for your events. Be prepared!

Facilitator’s Tool Kit Checklist

Here’s a checklist of what you might need for your events.  Some items will come from your stash.  The hosting organizations will provide some. Some may need to be rented for the occasion.

  • Digital camera–for recording meeting results and photographing happy people. The photos (with permission) can be used to illustrate reports, enliven your website and market future events.
  • Laptop fully charged and charger cable.
  • Sound system. I travel with a small speaker system. Today’s technology is amazing. Tiny speakers and a little amp hooked up to a laptop can belt it out. Very cool.
  • Large screen project Do not skimp on foot candles. Bright is beautiful.
  • Microphone system. While usually provided by the hosting organization, take your own. Test the one provided for you before the meeting begins. Test all the electronic paraphernalia. Make sure they work.  If they don’t work well, use your own.
  • Extension cord and power strip.
  • Screen or blank wall. If live captioning is provided, you will need two large screens.
  • Round café tables 36” to 48” across. Four tables will seat up to twenty people. An alternative is to rent tables. In a pinch, you can use eight-foot tables with two people on each side and no one on the ends. You want conversation and intimacy.
  • Tables for refreshments and registration. Rectangular tables work fine.
  • Red and white checkered tablecloths, plastic or cloth. Other colors and patterns are fine, too.
  • Colorful table runners from different cultures.
  • Stuffed animals. Whether we are two-years-old or ninety-two, stuffed animals help when tensions mount.
  • Name tags. Pre-printed names work well if done in a large font. Otherwise, use blank name tags and encourage participants to write big!
  • Flip chart paper, usually 24” x 36”. I prefer the style with an adhesive strip.
  • Tripod to hold the flip chart paper.
  • White artist tape. Do not use masking or painter’s tape. They damage walls.
  • Rolling whiteboards or a roll of butcher paper and a long wall or multiple flip chart tripods.
  • Giant post-it notes for collecting and posting key ideas. I love the 11” x 11” size. My second choice is 8” x 6”. Smaller sizes cannot be read by eyes with sight impairment. Big and bold beat puny and paltry. Teach people to write big!
  • Note cards of different sizes for place cards, memory joggers, and various exercises.
  • 5” x 11” lined paper for registering attendance and taking notes.
  • Pencils and pens.
  • Stapler, staples, and staple remover.
  • Rubber bands.
  • Screwdrivers, a small box of screws, scissors, pliers, small hammer, and vise grips. Seriously.
  • Duct tape. A facilitator’s best buddy. Use it for taping extension, microphone, and computer cords to the floor and fixing everything except dinner.
  • Non-toxic, unscented, colorful, broad-tipped markers. Blue, green, dark brown, red, orange, and black can be seen. Avoid light colors.
  • Mugs or cups to hold markers.
  • Plastic vases with plastic flowers. Lots of them. We’re shooting for festive.
  • Non-toxic, unscented votive candles. Candles with batteries and a tiny light work well.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Facial tissues.
  • A bell or chime to call time. I prefer a chime. Tibetan finger cymbals are also cool.
  • Set a table with a combination of healthy and unhealthy choices: fruit, veggies, finger food, chips, and what not. Include favorite beverages. Design the setup for persons with mobility disabilities. Oh yes, chocolate!
  • Lots of it.
  • Cash for tipping. You will need tips to say “Thank you” to custodians, chefs, wait staff, and parking attendants. Be generous.
  • Business cards.
  • A donkey. Carrying all this stuff can be taxing. A large suitcase with wheels also works well.

For More Information

For more ideas on building inclusive and equitable meetings and organizations visit www.civicreinventions.com or email Mark Smutny at mark.smutny@civicreinventions.com.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Smutny and Civic Reinventions, Inc. All rights reserved. For permission to distribute copies of this article in any form, contact: mark.smutny@civicreinventions.com.