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Shifting Power in the Room: Facilitating Meaningful Conversations with Heather Gross (5 Sessions)

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Are you tired of online presentations instead of online conversations? Have you ever wanted to talk with friends about a meaningful idea, but only hear one person speak? Does your family need to make a decision, and really understand the perspectives around the table? 

Is there a recipe for facilitating meaningful conversations?

This course aims to equip you with the skills and tools for convening inclusive and authentic conversations. It will give participants a chance to experience, reflect on and plan their own conversations and group sessions.  

This course is ideal for

  • Anyone who is called to host a conversation or gathering - especially online
  • Hosts of panels at social and cultural gatherings
  • Hosts of clubs (e.g, book clubs), social groups (e.g. parenting circles, saging)
  • Family members convening difficult dialogues 
  • Managers and senior team members leading conversations

    5 sessions over 5 weeks, each session will include the steps of gathering, framework modelling, implementation, and reflection. Each participant will not only participate in different group conversations but also gain experience in hosting and facilitating such conversations. 

    We will use the metaphor of sharing a meal to familiarize you with the different aspects of hosting/facilitating conversations:

    Week 1: Sending out the invite

    Being clear on purpose is key!  Priya Parker, author of the Art of Gathering, speaks about deciding “why you are REALLY gathering”. This week, we will engage in a process to help get clear about purpose. This includes getting to know who else is “in the room” and further developing our community. 

    Week 2:  Planning the menu 

    There are so many ways we can gather!  The option we choose is the first step in recognizing power and influence. If we want to shift an old pattern, or offer a new way of doing things, we need to plan a gathering that is both inviting and prescriptive. This week we will try out some different short models of choices for gathering.

    Week 3: Setting the table 

    What platforms do we bring to this?  We explore the pros and cons of various online meeting applications: Zoom, Teams, Butter, Miro, Mural, Facebook, and asynchronous conversations. We’ll focus on low and no-cost alternatives as well as low and no-tech options to gather. This week will be very participatory with lots of time to share our experiences.

    Week 4: Eating 

    What if something goes wrong? This week is the key week. How can we engage with conflict, with disruptive participants, with the inevitable “but I’m not sure this is how we should be doing this” contributors?  How can we plan for it? We will see how we can pivot and shift a group back to the basic principles. 

    Week 5: “Your place, next time” 

    This week is all about shifting locations - how to encourage others to step forward and get some practice in stepping forward ourselves. Participants will leave with a plan for a gathering they may have in mind or a format to use to plan their next one!

    Join this course if you wish to become a host who can

    • prepare artfully (create the container / curate)
    • hold space with generous authority
    • welcome involvement
    • sense the needs of a group
    • host opportunities for inclusive engagement

      Each participant will leave the course with experience participating in different forms of group conversation and also with a chance to host and experiment with the group in a safe space.

      About the Facilitator

      Heather Gross enjoys hosting conversations, guiding group discussions, supporting groups in making decisions, and fostering engagement through individual reflection and visual representation. Much of her practice includes techniques honed through her connection with Art of Hosting practices as well as Liberating Structures

      She has a strong background in working with volunteers, particularly in museum and educational settings and often across cultural differences. She draws on her intercultural competencies to facilitate communication and garner results with extremely diverse groups of people. She was the Deputy Head at Pearson College UWC and was engaged in various roles there for 14 years. Her professional work involved developing educational pathways for international students within intercultural school settings and in university environments.

      Let's Get Started

      Once you enroll, you will receive an invite from welearnwegrow@mn.co to join the course on the  WLWG learning platform. 

      The course sessions will be online on Zoom with 10-15 other learners. We will post the access links on the course page on the WLWG platform. The sessions will be recorded in case you miss one. 

      Since we are open to members from all parts of the world, we offer a sliding scale of contributions. Our plans are available at three levels of financial experience. If you would like to trial the course, you can enroll into the first session for free, after which you can pick one of our plans.

      If for some reason you would like to attend the course but are unable to contribute financially, please contact us for a free seat.


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