What to do when you are convening
- Watch the time limits that the group has agreed to follow and remind the group when time limits are approaching (time to end a discussion, end a meeting).
- Help the group shift attention as needed to address everyone’s agenda requests
- Stay attentive to ways in which the group’s words and actions are staying in tune with their values (Principles of Solidarity)
- Call for “circling” or “sparking” when you see that the group needs a shift in energy or focus
- Remind the group of options to consider, especially when they are building decisions
- When tension or conflict erupts, facilitate a shift into processes for Conflict Transformation processes that fully respect the group’s respect for all opposing points of view
- Assure that the group reserves sufficient time for Closing
What not to do when you are convening
- Never use your privilege as convener to impose your will on the group.
- During discussion, remember that you participate as any other member. You do not call on people to speak, or control the discussion process in any way.
- If tension or conflict arise, do not cut off discussion or use any “power-over” approach in an attempt to control the situation. Trust the process of the group!
Consider the following when it is your turn to take on the leadership as convener:
- Review notes from past meetings to be sure you bring forward anything that needs the group’s attention.
- Connect with the Convener of the last meeting to help plan for continuity from one meeting to another.
- Reflect on the group’s values (Principles of Solidarity) so that you have a clear focus on the group’s intentions.
- Plan a tentative agenda, and a tentative time frame for each part of the agenda.
- Prepare a SOPHIA to help the group focus on the issues to be discussed.
A SOPHIA is a brief (3 to 5 minute) summary that focuses discussion. It ends with “subjectives” – questions for the group to consider as they move through the discussion.
The term SOPHIA is an acronym for: