Facilitation on the Floor

Since writing about working on the floor I’ve been at it for weeks! It’s a completely different way of visualising and steering a dialogue if your participants are encouraged to view the results of their discussions on the floor as opposed to the wall, screen or flipchart. Why? Here are some arguments which will hopefully direct you away from vertical visualisation methods when facilitating:

  1. Teachers and professors, experts and others use vertical visualisation (blackboard, powerpoint slides, etc.) when they’re telling you what you should know, think, believe and do. This puts them in an active role and participants in a passive one. There is a feeling of having to put up one’s hand before speaking…
  2. Participants working on a piece of visualisation on the floor can’t help but get involved. It becomes self-propelled. Small groups will form and re-form to deal with details, participants can work for a time on their own, before coming together. Because working on the floor enables participants to continually change and adapt their perspectives, they can focus on details or the big picture – as their needs dictate.
  3. If you use the floor to visualise on, you can adapt your space to the content as there are no such boundaries as a screen, flipchart or poster prescribes.
  4. Vertical visualisation is 2 dimensional. If you try and go 3D, you’ll most likely be foxed by gravity. Visualising on the floor allows you and your participants to build scenarios using (symbolic) objects which allow a deeper understanding and analysis of the subject matter.
  5. A piece of 3 dimensional visualisation created by participants usually looks really good and is a great way of cementing an image of the group’s experience. It’s also effective if you want to show off the results to journalists, clients and others.


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