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.
Here is a checklist of what you might need for your events. Some items will come from your stash. The hosting organizations will provide others. Some may need to be rented for the occasion.
- Digital camera for recording meeting results and photo- graphing 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 projector. 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 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 are great when tensions mount.
- Name tags. Preprinted 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 beats puny and paltry. Teach people to write big!
- Notecards 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.
- Nontoxic, 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 aiming for festive.
- 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 people with mobility disabilities. Oh yes, chocolate!
- Lots of it.
- Cash for tipping. You will want to thank custodians, chefs, waitstaff and parking attendants. Be generous.
- Business cards.
- A donkey. Carrying all this stuff can be taxing. A large suitcase with wheels also works well.
© 2021 Dr. Mark Smutny. All rights reserved no part of this article may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording company taping or any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of Dr. Mark Smutny except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
For more resources, articles, workshops, coaching, speaking, facilitation services and to order copies of the book, Thrive: The Facilitator’s Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings, 2nd ed., visit www.civicreinventions.com. Email Mark Smutny a question, idea for inclusive meetings, a book recommendation, or a personal story at firstname.lastname@example.org.