What’s Your Pre-Game Warm Up?

April 28, 2017
Stages of Facilitation

Athletes implicitly know the value of the pre-game warm up.  So do professional performers. Warming up prepares the body and mind for action.  Professional facilitators, too, need a pre-game warm up routine so that we can be our best.  Here are some key elements of my routine, and I’d love to hear about yours.

Facilitators need a pre-game warm up routine so that we can be our best.

Rise Early / Arrive Early

On “game days”, I’m up at least two hours prior to session kick-off.  This allows me time to prepare both mentally and physically for the day.  I begin with a good stretch and some light aerobics, usually a short run.  Then it’s off to get ready, followed by a light breakfast.

I always arrive at the venue at least one hour before kick-off to make final preparations.  This includes starting up AV equipment, dialing up my “session music,” checking seating arrangements, and posting visuals.  If possible, I'll often set up the room the night before so that I can be completely participant-focused on game day.

Arriving early has another advantage.  By the time participants begin to arrive, I am present to greet each of them by name.  I spend time chatting as much as possible.  This not only breaks the ice but allows me to start creating the culture in the room – a culture marked by high energy, playfulness and openness.

I typically ask the session leader to arrive 30 minutes early.  This gives me time to review their talking points, learn about late-breaking developments, and address their questions.

Get Inspired

“Inspiration” is all about showing up with life!  What enables you show up with life every day?  For me, it’s thanking my Maker for the many blessings in my life, followed by my morning run as I listen to music.  (As a non-coffee drinker, a good run also serves to wake me up and to ensure I am fully present. I NEED my morning run!)   By the time kick-off rolls around, I’ve got the breath of life in me!

Get Focused

As I prepare my body for the day, I am also preparing my mind.  I hold my client and her team in my mind’s eye.  I imagine them interacting with one another in productive dialog. I think about behaviors that I can model that will take their team dynamics to the next level.  I remind myself that my job is to draw out their brilliance. They are the heroes!  By the end of this mental exercise, I am in a space where I have aside my self-interests and am free to serve the team. 

I also spend time focusing on the key outcomes and objectives of the session.  I take great care in crafting outcome statements with my client.  Focusing on these outcomes once again before kick-off enables me to be laser-focused in delivering objectives while being open and agile in how I get there.

I hope one or more of these practices serve as you evolve your own pre-game warm up routine.  So what’s your pre-game warm up?  Please write me and let me know.  

Paul Zaffiro

I have been facilitating at a professional level for over 15 years. As leader of The GYM, Procter & Gamble’s Global Innovation Capability, I designed and facilitated over 200 sessions in the areas of team building, organizational design, strategic visioning, and idea generation.  I am certified in multiple processes, including the Grove Strategic Visioning Process, Creative Problem Solving, the Basadur Simplexity Process, and the Verus Global Pathways to Leadership Process.  I don’t just design and facilitate sessions; I create experiences.  

When I'm not facilitating, you can find me serving in the community, building houses with Habitat for Humanity. 

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