Invitations are the door opener to create engagement. At least it would be wonderful if they were.
Are you happy with meeting invitations you receive or send out? Do they speak to you? Are they opening the door for you to step in and engage?
Putting yourselves in the shoes of those you invite is a good way forward to find out how inviting you are.
- Some are minimalist, not really telling a lot, not giving a feeling of welcome.
- Some are just about logistics, giving no or not enough clues what the workshop is about and why one is invited
- Some are simply not an invitation but rather an order, leaving no choice to say no.
- Others miss the chance to engage. A missed opportunity for those invited to get ready.
The moment of discovery is the moment the guest discovers a specific, promised future happening and has to decide whether or not to attend. And the lever of that moment is the invitation.Priya Parker
Bad invitations are not a good starting point for an engaging meeting, workshop, or an event.
That’s a real pity.
Invite to engage
Invitations are important.
Because invitation and engagement are the two sides of the same coin, aren’t they?
So, how do you draft invitations that are inviting?
That’s the creative challenge we – Corinne and Nadia – defined for ourselves. In our workshop ‘Truly inviting invitations. A joint exploration on the art of inviting.’ a group of keen and passionate facilitators and workshop leaders stepped into the role of the explorers. Jointly we unpacked what a curious invitation could look like. The ambition was high, with curious invitations we meant invitations that truly attract, involve and engage everyone from the start. Even before anyone steps into the workshop or meeting room.
Curious questions for better invitations
Asking many curious questions during the preparation and invitation process is a factor for success. It helps to question the purpose, the first ideas, the possible process. In this way you can sharpen your why and improve the invitation process.
- Why are you inviting? What is the deepest reason for inviting people to this workshop?
- What special potential and talents do you invite into the room?
- What story does your invitation tell?
With the group of explorers of ‘Truly inviting invitations.’ we did not only ask many questions, we went a step further. With the help of the Liberating Structures Min Specs we uncovered what we have to do to be truly inviting. In an iterative process we jointly defined some simple rules, the Min Specs, that must ABSOLUTELY be respected in order to be truly inviting to engage the right people before the workshop even starts.
The process was as follows:
Step 1: We first went wild to think broadly
In parallel groups, we listed all ‘dos’ (and don’ts) that came to our mind.
What can you do to be truly inviting and to engage the right people before the workshop even starts?
Step 2: We went to the essence of being truly inviting
Then we tested each item: Can we still successfully engage the right people and achieve our goal if we ignored this? What are the minimum requirements for truly inviting invitations?
This is what we came up with. Here our minimum requirements for being truly inviting:
The minimum requirement for truly inviting invitations.
What do you have to do to be truly inviting and engage the right people before the workshop even starts?
- Share the purpose why you invite, why this workshop and what do you try to achieve with the support of the person invited.
- Understand those you invite (interests, experiences, know-how and talents, language, availability etc.)
- Invite the right people and give each of them the feeling that they are needed, that their contribution matters and that they are special. Make it exclusively inclusive.
- Be clear that those you invite have a choice, and that it would be a pity if they would say no. If saying ‘no’ is no option don’t call it an invitation. Formulate a request.
ROLES AND EXPECTATION
- Be clear in which capacity and role they are invited and what contribution you expect.
- Reach out and involve those you invite in an active role, if possible in co-creating and co-shaping the process, certainly in contributing.
LANGUAGE AND TONE
- Craft a curious and welcoming invitation that creates surprise, curiosity and excitement so that people say “I am looking forward to this meeting/ workshop.”
- Share all the information people need in order to accept and prepare.
- Find the right tone, dare to make it personal, beyond the obvious.
- Craft an attractive and clear title for the event that triggers curiosity.
- Get the conversation going in one or the other way even before the meeting or workshop starts and start the social weaving. Make everyone curious who else will join.
- Be practical and realistic, so that busy people accept your curious invitations with ease and find a way to make space for joining.
This list was developed in close collaboration with 11 co-facilitators who joined our workshop ‘Truly inviting invitations. A joint exploration on the art of inviting.’ A big thank you to: Céline, Cesar, Cesarina, Dipti, Julie, Lara, Loraine, Melanie, Miriam, Nur and Sandra.
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Engage & keep engagement high. A joint exploration on the art of facilitating engagement in online meetings and workshops. June 9 from 13:30 – 15:30 CEST. Join us if you agree that people meet to engage and that you – as workshop leader and facilitator – want to facilitate engagement so that the voice of each single participant can be heard.
Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash