I recently facilitated a set of final joint-panel discussions for the IF discussion project on “Food.” These meetings went well, and the panelists contributed a lot of good–if sometimes varying–ideas on how to shape up the final discussion report for this project (forthcoming this summer). But there was also one, quite practical difficulty (and lesson for facilitating) that arose from our meetings.
The meeting room that we were using for these meetings had attractive (even fashionable) wallpaper that was a textured, fabric-like material. While this wall covering made the room look nice, it also made it difficult if not impossible in some cases to get the completed flip charts to stick. Even with the self-stick strip on each chart–and later even with additional blue painters tape–the charts would hold for a some minutes, but eventually gravity would win and they would peal away and fall to the floor.
We muddled through despite this odd failure of adhesive, texture, and physics. Sometimes I could get them to stay up with additional, multiple applications of painters tape, but at other times I just let them stay on the floor. Our discussions were proceeding perfectly well even with the occasional cascade of paper. Still, my one bit of practical advice for selecting future meeting rooms: check out the wallpaper and/or wall surfaces carefully to make sure that there is some surface space that will “hold” the completed flip charts. Too much “texture” can make it difficult for the flip charts (and their ideas ?) to stick.