Behind the Scenes Look at Planning Supportive Events
Feb 01, 2023
I don't think I've ever given a behind the scenes look into planning an event, but I've been planning events for decades, and thought it may be of interest to NOT ONLY those of you who facilitate/host events, but also those of you who participate so you know what to look for when joining your next event!
During my corporate training career, our program/event satisfaction surveys revealed that participants most enjoyed the networking opportunities, storytelling from those with experience in their field, relevant content that could be applied immediately on the job, and the interactive exercises that made the learning engaging. We also asked how they would rate the event space (comments were always mixed about food), while still weighing that input against constraints like budget, availability for our size group at less busy times during the year, proximity to the airport, etc.
Over the past decade; however, I've been leading smaller, local events (You can see what's on the current calendar here: https://www.meetup.com/women-who-flow/events).
While this offers more flexibility, I now have other considerations to take into account. Today, as a transformational coach/energy facilitator, my audience includes heart-centered individuals who want to connect with, and freely express, their authentic selves so they can attract supportive environments, relationships, and experiences that align with their true needs and desires. As you can imagine, this involves varying levels of vulnerability, and so it requires more attention, on my end, to creating and holding a safe space.
So, while I've taken these insights I've learned form my corporate training days, I have come up with the following list of questions that I ask myself when planning an event:
- How can I create a safe space? What about the venue space cues safety to the brain/nervous system? Ex. For my upcoming "Free Up Your Energy with Tension Release Exercises (TRE) and Reiki: Intro Night!" I found a great space where the owner of the healing center has placed beautiful plants around the corners with some artwork on the walls, and has comfortable seats and blankets available. If I were to offer it during the day, there would be natural light, but the space has some beautiful ceiling lights that I can adjust. I also plan to bring an alter with flowers and a couple of candles (unscented). Tips for a participant: How do you feel in your body when you look at an event invitation (on social media, flyers...)? Has the host clarified what you can expect? Are you able to see what the space will be like? These are some things you can feel into to determine whether it's a fit.
- How can I hold a safe space? Before I arrive to location (or sometimes I get there early enough), I will do some Tension Release Exercises myself. This allows me to get my nervous system into a state of connection so participants' nervous systems can relax. I also light the candles, honor the ancestors of the land, call in the spirit helpers (mine and participants) that can help hold the space, and set the intention to do my best. The main thing about holding a safe space is that it is less about what the facilitator does, and more about whether you feel energetically aligned with them when you are in their presence. Tips for a participant: How do you feel in your body when you look at a picture of the host? Do you resonate with their bio? Does the language on their platforms show that they would "get" you?
- How can I facilitate experiences where participants can release what is no longer serving them? This starts with the invitation where I state the intended outcomes and intended flow/agenda, so they can make an empowered decision (Yes, or No?). During the event, if I have done my job in #1 and #2, then I have created the conditions for participants to release the protection patterns/dense thoughts and emotions, that are no longer serving them so they can see new possibilities and clarify what they truly need and desire. Tips for a participant: What kinds of experiences are you looking for? What is your intention? If you were to attend "the best" event, what would that look like? How would you want it to go? How would that feel? Setting your own intention prior to arrival is powerful, and hosts/facilitators who offer an opportunity for you to express that on-site are those who see you in your power.
- How can I facilitate experiences where participants can fill space - radiating their authentic selves? I like to end an event with an opportunity for participants to notice, in their body, the shifts they have made. Do they feel inspired, peaceful, relaxed, energized, excited, or uplifted? When participants are feeling more connected in their body, and in one of these feeling states (vs. stressed, stuck), it's easier to receive inspiration from their own inner wisdom and take a next step. Tip for participants: When looking at the invite for an event, do the intended outcomes and overall wording give you a sense of what feeling state this experience will bring? Would you like to receive support after the event to continue to move forward on your journey? If yes, what might that look like?
Even if you're not planning to host an event of your own, I invite you to consider this list of questions before you attend another in-person workshop/event, so you can really take the time to feel into the space, the host and their intention, and the experiences that will best suit your needs. The act of consciously choosing (yes, or no) can make a huge difference when it comes to your experience!
I'd love to hear if this checklist is helpful to you, or what you would add/change. Feel free to reply with your suggestions and questions and thank you for being part of this community!