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Hosting Large Open Space Meetings

Many of my colleagues and I are being asked to scale up our work, both in purpose and in the number of people participating. Recently there was a discussion on the OS listserve about tips for hosting OS in groups of 600. Everything from room setup to expected number of groups to adjustments in time needed, etc. Very helpful. With thanks to my OS colleagues.

From Lisa Heft, an excellent post from her experience of hosting with the Girl Scouts.

From Larry Peterson, a practitioner based in Toronto, Ontario, another excellent post.

From Chris Corrigan, this: “Oh…one thing I did in my 600 person OS that really helped was to have someone writing up the agenda for the first session as it was being produced and once the agenda setting session was over we projected it on large screens. THat just saved traffic piling up at the wall and 600 people all trying to read one person’s handwriting. Subsequent sessions were projected as the day went on.”

And this, “emphasize the 1.5 hour part. 600 is a lot of people. Don’t rush them.”

From Harrison Owen, this on moving people along: “But you do have to keep the folks moving with a large group. I set the stage for this by saying as we start on announcing sessions that this is not the time for a speech. Just announce your title and state your name – and move on. One secret is that I ALWAYS hang on to the mike. I act just like a sticky microphone stand. If somebody starts on a speech (something more than title and name) I let them go for a very little bit and then intervene to say “No Speeches.” Some times you have to do this twice, but I have never had to do it a third time. Net effect is that even with very large groups (2108 German Psychiatrists) announcing 236 sessions took a little less that ½ an hour.”

And this, “I have always found that it is much easier to work with a group this size and larger. Everything works just the way it always does, even down to the amount of time it takes to get started – an hour an a half – and any thought that you might be able to control the situation is simply unthinkable.”

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