Earlier this week my wife had a surprise for me. She had “extra” tickets for the Tim McGraw concert at the Jiffy Lube Live – Nissan Pavilion. This was the last show in his so-called “Emotional Traffic Tour.” The warm-up performers were The Band Perry and Luke Bryan. Yes, this night was shaping up nicely. The stage back drop read: “We’re The Band Perry and we play Country music.” And boy do they ever! Then came Luke Bryan and his song “Rain is a good thing” may have kept away the storm long enough for the corn and whiskey to do their thing.
Background: When country-western bands are in town, most times my wife will declare it’s GIRLS NIGHT OUT. Then she and a few friends will see their favorite performers without me. Not this time. This time I was lucky on several counts. From an entertainment point of view it was a great night. From a facilitator’s point of view, it was insightful. Hey, wait a minute … What do I mean by this? Please, read on.
When you prepare to facilitate your meetings, do you focus on all the participants or do you pay more attention — either by design or unconsciously — to those who’ve paid for one of the expensive seats? As facilitators we are taught to make space or ‘air time’ for all who are in the room. Some discussion leaders and facilitators go out of our way early in the meeting to collect the points of view of all. A few will periodically recycle the attention toward the quiet members.
Occasionally we’ll hear someone tee-up a question with a comment such as, “Let’s hear from someone we haven’t heard from yet.” Or a facilitator might ask that folks write down their observations, collect them, and read them aloud with the authors’ permission to engage the introverts.
Take a page out of the ‘Tim McGraw playbook’ and design your next gig so that you purposefully address the interests of those in the cheap seats. Call upon the thoughts and opinions of the more junior individuals in the room first. Ask that those who are sitting in the back speak up first.
Negotiate with the more senior members that they keep their opinions private until you’ve collected the ideas of those on the fringe and/or who may not be seating right up front. Explain to the meeting sponsor that perhaps it’s a good thing that their point of view not be stated too soon as it may adversely influence others to hold back versus speak freely.
‘Yes’, believe it or not these questions passed through my mind as I was at last night’s concert. Okay, admittedly this may seem a bit odd. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So what insights or observations have come to your mind when watching a show, listening to a song, or enjoying a performance? Did Tim McGraw do the right thing to first appeal to his fans in the lawn?
Do you think those in the more expensive seats felt slighted or any less engaged? What do you think? Please comment and share your thoughts on how to be more inclusive and/or how to bring a bit of showmanship into your next engagement.