Silence, please!

Do you know silent co-creation? If not, then read on and I will let you in on the ‘secret’.

Silent co-creation is a method to enhance attention, respect, knowledge sharing, and cooperation in a meeting situation. When you add periods of silence to a meeting agenda, you also add time to let everyone reflect upon the meeting and its content and outcome.

I am taking classes at Denmark’s leading facilitator of silent co-creation, Bastian Overgaard, and I have to say that it is the most interesting classes I have taken in many years.

First of all, we are a rather small group gathered for the same reason: to learn how to facilitate silent co-creation. And we all go very well together. We find silent co-creation interesting as opposed to strange, and we are all sincerely interested in learning to facilitate meetings with it.

Secondly, it is actually very liberating to be in a class/meeting where you are supposed to shut up! :o) The classes are at a different pace that I am used to, and it feels great. All too often, we attend meetings where it feels important to make sure we have expressed our own points of view…otherwise, it doesn’t feel like we have in fact been there (almost like the fact that if you have taken a run it only actually happened if it was documented on Facebook…but that is a whole other story!).

When silent co-creating, we support the time needed to reflect upon the content of the meeting which means that those who need a bit of time to think before speaking will also be heard. And so, you include everybody. And those who tend to talk all the time are stopped in a gentle way.

So, what is this silent co-creation? It is short periods of time added to a meeting agenda where you don’t speak. For a short meeting, it might be 1 or 2 minutes in the beginning and the end of the meeting, but for longer meetings it can be as much as 30 minutes of silence at a time – like Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos does.

During the silence the facilitator can decide whether it is OK to write, walk around (Bastian does silent walks as well – I have tried it and it is great to go on walks without spoiling all the impressions by talking), read a hand out, or do group work by drawing. Some periods of silence might only be for reflection without doing anything but sitting/standing.

Most of the time when we talk about involving our participants in meetings or conferences we think of teambuilding exercises, creative setups, and funny ice breakers. But how about including everybody – and not just the creative, outgoing, sporty types – in a group exercise that includes all participants equally as well as support the objectives of the event. All too often, ice breakers and ‘record your own album’ teambuilding is included in the agenda because it is fun, not because it enhances the event.

The training course that I attend are four days of learning to facilitate and use silent co-creation to enhance meetings. The concept works best for meeting from 10 to 30 people, but my goal is to use it on an entire conference of 200-400 people eventually. I just need a bit more training in facilitating it before I dive into this task.

In a fast-paced world like today, we need to take more time off from talking and being ‘on the air’ all the time. Some do meditation, some take a run in the woods, I do silent co-creation. Wanna join me?

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