Curate your retreat group for the best outcomes – Part two
How do you ensure a great return on investment for all attendees of your retreat group?
If you run Retreats, you need to know it’s not all about you. It’s about each person who attends. They have chosen to spend the time and money, and it’s up to you to make it worthwhile for them. Super-worthwhile.
As I said in part one of this article, I need to know there will be a mix of learning from the experts, amplifying my own skills, and sharing of group experience. I want to know before I get there that it will be engaging and productive. Mostly I’d like to know I will be taking away a ‘thing’: I will have completed some of my workloads or be ready to do it and be supported on my return. But only if I was planning to do that thing anyway.
It goes without saying that you need to be an expert in your field and a great facilitator.
You need to be able to marry your own needs with those of the attendees and the content (what I call the Facilitator’s Triangle). You are a key factor in the success of the retreat, but there are at least nine factors that play a powerful part. Ten, if you include the food. Good food is pretty important.
Those nine factors are about the people, the environment, the ethics, the knowledge, skills and experience of the group. They include timing and support systems. And they are about the follow-up processes.
You’ll need engagement before, during and after the Retreat, and an honest matching of your offering to the needs of the curated group of attendees.
1. The right people in your retreat group.
A touch of curation goes a long way. Do your pre-work to make sure that those who are attending can collaborate as much as is needed, and that they understand that you are aiming for triple wins. That’s wins for each of them, wins for the group, and wins for the world.
It’s a wonderful experience to turn up and know that you’ve landed in a well thought out group.Don’t be shy to down sell to those who aren’t ready or who won’t suit the group you’ve curated for this group. Balance that with an absolute commitment to diversity and inclusion. A tough balance but an important one.
2. The right environment for the retreat.
We are spoilt for choice for Retreat venues. Try the venue out, read reviews, and make sure that what you need is on offer, without fuss and with delight. It makes all the difference to the success of the retreat.
3. The right ethics.
Having choice means that we can support environmental sustainability, fair wages, locally sourced food – whatever it is that matches your ethics. A place that feels like a partner in the Retreat process will create a much better outcome.
Run it well
4. A celebration of the knowledge, skills and experience in the room.
Remember, it’s not all about you – it’s about your curation of the outcomes. You’ve chosen the people who are there, now choose to draw out their knowledge, skills and experience to generate even better outcomes. Co-learning and support make a Retreat rich and memorable.
5. The right mix of time on and time off.
You’ve chosen the environment, now use it. Whether it’s a short walk down to the beach to discuss one person’s agenda on the way down and their chat partner’s agenda on the way back (a technique I use frequently) or whether it’s time to journal in the outdoors, you can use the environment in the Retreat process. But you can also use it to rejuvenate and refresh, with no set agenda. Be brave.
6. Strong support during the retreat.
Life-changing moments are often challenging. The Retreat leader is responsible for ensuring the right support is available as people make the life-decisions that retreats draw out.
Follow up well
7. A tangible outcome.
Be sure that the expectations that were set at the start of the Retreat are met for each person. This should include a tangible outcome to create a strong return on investment. Be sure to check if this has happened as you close the retreat and if it’s not quite there, create something after the retreat that fills in the gaps.
8. The best Triple Wins for your retreat group.
The best outcomes are those that create wins for everyone. There is an opportunity for you to grow and learn with your group, for the people to achieve what they set out to achieve, and for you all to make a positive impact on the world as you re-join the real world. Set this up as an expectation early in the process and follow it through after the retreat.
9. Useful follow-up with some accountability structures.
Big changes will have happened for your attendees. Offer them support and an accountability structure (accountability buddies, a 30-day challenge, follow up online meetings or whatever works best) to slow down the natural drop-off that happens after the high of a retreat.
A bit of preparation goes a long way, and some attention to detail during and after the Retreat is essential. Imagine, then, if you’ve also made sure you’ve got the right people in the group. What a great recipe for the best outcomes.