Which Space is Right For You?

Screenprint from sixminutes.dlugan.com
I have read this great post by Nick Morgan at Six Minutes a few times now:

It is written for public speakers, and contains some useful messages for facilitators too.  Each time I read it I take something different from it.  The stuff I really appreciate:

  • There are four distinct zones:  public, social, personal and intimate.  And we need to occupy 'personal space' to have an impact.
  • When we move towards someone they are more likely to trust us,and the converse is true too.
  • People have empathy for the observed experience of others, so we don't need to move into everyone's 'personal space' to have an impact on a larger crowd.
  • Avoid turning your back on people, as it communicates disinterest.

Extending what Nick has said:

  • If you are facilitating a session of more than a couple of hours, it is important to think about 'resting' people as well as making a 'world changing impression' on them.  Use 'moving back' to give them a break.
  • One way I 'move back' is to go and fiddle with my notes or make myself a cup of tea after I have given instructions for an activity.  If you stand close by, looking attentive, people can be distracted.  Let them get on with the activity.
  • If you are going to move forwards to emphasise what you are saying, give yourself some space.  Prepare for 'big messages' by moving back a little (or even a lot) first.