Control the Room 2022 was an absolute success! We hosted our annual facilitator summit last week, and our makeup sessions this week, alongside our partner MURAL. Our wonderful connection between the live event and the virtual world, hosted by Mark Tippin, Director of Strategic Next Practices, Mark facilitated “Mind Shift” sessions, where he guided our attendees through a dialog about how everyone was impacted by the talks. He engaged both in-person and virtual attendees through our various activities in our conference mural. It was inspiring to have so many people joining in different ways and everyone getting the chance to communicate.
We also partnered with SAFE this year to support and honor a lost colleague, Jenni Robertson. The dedication of this summit comes after losing a coworker, mother, and friend to family violence and Voltage Control has pledged to work with SAFE to stop family violence for everyone. We wanted to take a moment and look back on all of the moments of insight, knowledge, and growth we all took part in over the course of the summit.
This year’s summit theme was SHIFTS, and as we move into 2022 we have seen shifts in the way we work, the way we connect, and the way we honor one another.
This year we hosted 18 facilitators in a hybrid space. We were live in-person, on Zoom, and even created our own Control the Room VR space, and we must say the event, even with a few technical issues, turned out to be a hub of idea sharing and growing with each other.
Each speaker delivered a 20-minute lightning session, and each session was filled with a sense of community, play, and story-telling. Read on to get a summary of each talk!
I am worthy. You are worthy. To open the summit with such a beautiful practice was profound. We all shared our worth with each other and were instantly pulled into this space of sharing, learning, and growing. Matthew celebrates bringing everything you’ve got and creating a space that celebrates diversity and inclusion. The peaceful warrior opened us up to the understanding that a sense of belonging must be created by the individual. We, as people, need that sense of belonging to be authentic, and the space we found ourselves in was absolutely authentic and beautiful.
Talk about starting with a bang! Picture an entire audience covered in multi-colored streamers, laughing and smiling ready for whatever is next! To describe Shannon’s session without visuals would be a great injustice. The toy designer, facilitator, and inventor knows how to get an entire adult audience to write down a fact, turn it into a paper airplane and fly around the room, giggles ensuing. What are you designing in your own work to incorporate more play? This crucial question will change the way you facilitate by encouraging the child’s mind and inviting everyone to learn, grow, and create. ‘It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.’
If you believe in powerful questions you can change the world. When you are faced with a difficult question, often the immediate response is to take the easy route and disengage. When you believe in that question and open up the conversation there is true transformative power you can tap into. Dialogue should be a habit, not an intervention. Hearing someone in the room ask a difficult question, or share an opinion and watching the validation that happens between peers opens up the conversation to solutions. Belonging is important, and while taking the negative route is often easier, if we want to arrive at actionable solutions and create a sense of belonging, the difficult route must be explored.
Sky Howell + Annie Hodges
It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought you to reside on a land and discover what is your history in relation to your place on it. With this small act we are put in a place of seeking the truth about our shared history, and we plant a seed to want to learn more. A simple acknowledgment does not change what has happened, or what is happening to the indigenous people of our land, so what can you do to begin to move beyond a land acknowledgment? The call from Sky and Annie is to take the next step at native-land.ca/ and learn what people belong to the land we live on and begin to build real authentic relationships with the community.
There is nothing wrong with being a shy individual, but often it can make you feel your voice goes unheard. Public speaking and debate bring empowerment and confidence to oneself. Ghalia has journeyed from finding her voice in debate and public speaking clubs, to sharing her found confidence with the youth by developing programs within the schools in her community. To take that a step further, working in the gaming industry she discovered she was able to encourage positivity and retention within her youth groups.
We are living in an epidemic of loneliness. Steven, with his ultimately honest and inherently hilarious, story of his first experience as a hospital chaplain, with trying to help people. He was told he was the worst. This was a moment of learning, about the fact that there are small pieces that we can do to affect people’s loneliness. Begin by following their cues, and realize yes/no questions make you feel challenged and create stopping points because they do not encourage anything beyond the question. So rather than asking the yes/no question “Do you have a family?” ask ‘tell me about your family’’. In truth, silence is what trust sounds like.
Van Lai-DuMone challenged our community to build their own “creative artifacts,” a reminder of creating something with your hands to remember what you learned and experienced. Using practical and creative problem-solving tools we were able to unleash our creativity and think bigger than ourselves, ready to move on to our next project with confidence. Remember to enjoy bringing creativity into your presentations.
Ai Vuong + Samuel
The filmmakers asked us to dive into metamorphosis. With limited, or distorted information we begin to make things up, so we return to our bodies. If we practice a slow meditation and allow for shifting systems we begin to see the world in a new way. Pulling out our phones and recording our partners for one minute, trying to capture something about them was exciting, and a little nerve-racking. After a short meditation and then looking at our partner, we were asked to do the same thing, but with intention. A beautiful transformation of the way we looked at each other occurred, and we were reminded that slowing our breathing, and being present changes our perspective on the world.
A beautiful storyteller, Jessica invited us to build empathy. In her story, My First Big Win, we were inspired by a story of patience, acceptance, bravery, and perseverance. Jessica stepped into her true self through stages, and within that process, she discovered ‘this is what it looks like, this is who I am.’ We were all reminded of the importance of sharing our own personal pronouns as a regular part of introducing yourself. And how that can make anyone feel accepted, important, and cared for by alleviating one form of microaggression.
Faith. Family and Friends. Fashion. One of the toughest day-to-day activities that we all face is looking in the mirror and appreciating what is in front of us. Nma battled with a negative self-image, but there were three things that pulled her out of that negative space. Faith, embracing how God designed her to be. Family and friends, who could be wonderfully supportive, but who also have the tendency to be the first to point out faults. Fashion, ‘Fashion gave me a reason to be me.’ The mindset reset is triggered by the song: Put on Your Sunday Clothes from the musical “Hello, Dolly.”. Put on your best and feel your best! A loving reminder from King David ‘You are not a mistake, and that your soul should know very well.’ Psalm 139:13-14
What could go terribly, horribly, THE WORST, wrong? ‘The Show Must Go Wrong’ We prepare for the worst-case scenario when in truth, we should be assessing the low and mid-range trauma responses within ourselves, as they are much more likely to be what we encounter. If there is a fire, we need to trust that we will save the person, we will do what needs to be done. But we need to start thinking about more common, regular occurrences. When considering this in a meeting space, we should always determine the psychological safety of a group to increase idea share, productivity and to unleash everyone in the space.
Generational divides and identity are not real. When asked what ‘generation’ they fall into, a surprising number of people will pick the wrong one. Narratives like ‘Boomers are bad at new technology’ or ‘Millennials are entitled’ contribute to ageism and create constraints in how we treat our own potential. Reverse mentoring is something we should all keep in the front of our minds. If you do not have a mentor that is younger than you, you need to get one! Keep yourself relevant, inspired, and on a path of lifelong learning!
What makes you powerful? What is the moment you felt powerful? What social cues did you pick up on? Nakia invited us all to look inside and feel our power, not only for ourselves but to understand how to include everyone. When you begin to understand that ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’ you begin to tap into your privilege and how that makes others feel within conversations. Nakia encouraged us all to acknowledge what is happening, and ask how do we include everyone.
In an incredibly important conversation, Sandra invited us to begin practicing how to lead trauma-informed conversations. This summit was dedicated to Jenni Robertson, a beloved coworker, mother, and friend who was lost tragically to family violence. Sandra, the Director of Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE), spoke on how we can all look for signs in our co-workers, friends, and family to prevent these tragedies from happening. She called on us to acknowledge that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and how important it is to not be the hero but to care. Being seen, heard, and validated is the most important thing to remember when using your tool kit to help keep those in your life safe.
Virtual Make Up Sessions
What was a great day for you? What was a terrible day for you? What was an ideal day for you? What was your least ideal day? By following a similar structure of questions you can begin to build best practices for naming the needs of a room. Understanding that our privileges are uniquely ours means stepping out of our normal and asking ‘what limitations might we have as individuals?’ is necessary in creating a psychologically safe environment. Rachel Economy explores the needs and values of the group and then takes it one step further by asking about experiences. Through experiences, we sometimes discover needs and wants we didn’t know were necessary for us to experience a successful facilitated event. Designing for facilitative groups means inclusivity and full psychological safety.
I Am. Why is mental health important, especially in marginalized communities? Depression is the leading cause of disability, worldwide. How does this affect marginalized communities, and why is it so severe? Social, economic, and inherited trauma (to name a few) lead to this, but how do we begin to pull away from depression? One solution is meditation. It can be done anywhere, by anyone through breath. Everything is intertwined, and our breathing practices bring a sense of presence to the self. From the beginning of time, ever after, to the end of time, I Am.
What if teleportation was your superpower? For Karen it is! Working in the exciting new world of VR and gaming ignites a passion in its followers that resonates with everyone involved. This is a new frontier and there are so many possibilities for facilitation, art, and design. Some of the tools being developed right now are Sketchbox3D, Masterpiece Studio, Meta Horizons World, Neo’s VR and so many more. IRL applications are quickly developing as well. There are endless business applications. The medical field is using AR and even construction has found uses for both VR and AR. It is an exciting new world we are stepping into.
What did a hairstylist, an elephant trainer, and an English teacher have in common? They all chose to enhance their learning experience and discover how they can design a learning experience for others. In designing experience feedback is something we all need to pay attention to. Feedback can become very generic when the design is generic. For example ‘that design is really clean’ we can dig further by asking ‘why is it clean?’ Understanding learning gaps is crucial for the design, and those learning gaps can come from simply not having the tools to achieve the goal.
Harnessing silence to encourage inclusion is accomplished by finding ways to slow down the conversation. Shelly invited us all to discuss the topic of belonging, but not in the usual way. We utilized MURAL to share our ideas, but rather than discussing first, we sat in with each other, not speaking, with gentle music in the background and allowed our ideas to flow. This approach to facilitation inspired a very calm conversation and spurred the conversation after about how extraverted you can actually be on paper. It is a very inclusive activity to see your peers working without speaking and it allows the space for you to do the same without fear of judgment.
Thank You to MURAL
Thanks to our partner MURAL for their support and for hosting the official conference virtual collaboration space.
There was some incredibly enlightening and creative work MURAL Labs put in for our VR Hackdays at Control the Room, here is a tour of the four seasons themed world.
One of our core company values is learning. Thank you so much to everyone who spoke live at the conference, and in our makeup sessions over this last week! We hope everyone walked away with a deeper understanding of facilitation, humanity, and empathy.
We are always growing our community and striving for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we cannot wait to see what next year’s Control the Room holds for us all!
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