There is a cycle to facilitation work and spring is definitely the time for retreats. Over the last several weeks and looking forward a couple we have been facilitating retreats on an average of 1-2 a week. Check out the gallery at the end of this post for highlights from our retreats from Virginia Poverty Law Center, Free Clinic of Powhatan, Dan River Nonprofit Network, Patrick Henry School of Science and Art, among others.
So how can you make sure your retreat is AWESOME? Here are the top 5 ways.
1. Create a clearly defined outcome.
Start where you want to end and a facilitator can design a day to get you there.
2. Incorporate a balance of fun, laughter, and hard work.
Boring doesn't work, serious isn't sustainable and pure fun won't move your organization forward.
3. Devote yourself to the work of the day, turn off your phone and your email.
We tend to take lots of breaks so people can use their phones because we are all busy but the more unplugged you can get the better focus you can have on your work.
4. Have an agenda that is varied with small group work, chatting, large group interaction and hands on work.
Adults learn in different ways and engage with content with different energy levels. By differing the content you can keep everyone happy and working. This is where markers, doodling, post it notes and toys are helpful.
5. Work with an outside facilitator.
We aren't just saying that because retreats are a core part of our work, you really need an impartial third party to be present to tell people to quiet down, to encourage them to share and to keep the group on task.