How to open up the space for breakout sessions

Here is a link to how to open the circle for the Community: Connect!


Here are links to help you learn more in depth where this came from.




closing circle: community connect

The closing circle is fairly simple. the purpose is for people to share, similar to how they did I the opening circle. I have found that the closing circle is very powerful and encouraging.

Be sure to start ringing the bell and announcing the closing circle with about ten minutes notice. Start on time, which is usually 1/2 hour before the end of the event. Ideally people can hang out as long as they wish after the closing circle, but it is important to end on time so that those who needed to leave by the stated ending of the event can do so, and still participate in the closing. ending on time is honoring those people who have busy schedules, and who value being in the closing circle. Here is the script:

I want to welcome you back to the circle. I encourage you to notice how you are feeling and if there is any difference between when you first sat in t (his circle, and now.First, we will have a song from (say person’s name)

Thank you  (name of person)

I want to give everyone who wants to a chance to share how they are feeling, and a few words about how this experience was for you.

In the middle of the circle, once again, we have some incomplete sentences that, if you wish, you can use to share. You are free to use your 30 seconds however you wish. Each person has 30 seconds because we want to end on time, and hear just a little bit from everyone. timing helps make it safe for everyone because we all get an equal chance to share. I will help you to see how much time you have by holding my hands out like this (show) and then as my hands get closer and closer, you know that time is getting less and less. Finally, when my hands are pressed together like this (show), I respectfully ask that you finish your last sentence.

I want to remind you that you can pass if you wish, and encourage you to look at each person who is talking with focused, positive attention, doing your best to see the inherent worth and goodness of each person.

suggested sentences are:

Right now one feeling I am having is….

One thing I learned was…

Something I appreciated about today was…


Thanks to everyone for sharing. Thank you for  making this event a richly rewarding experience for everyone.I want to share a different way of giving positive feedback (do hand waving–demonstrate)

I especially want to thank our sponsors (have a list of them handy)

Thanks so much to the venue (say specifically)

thanks to our volunteers (be sure to have a list handy)

and finally, thanks to each of you. I invite you to give yourselves a round of silent applause.


Now it is time to close. the circle.

(figure our a brief closing that helps to complete the event in an uplifting way)




Welcoming and opening the circle at Community: Connect!

This is a suggestion for a script that you can use for opening the circle. Of course you want to be able to use your own words and share your heart. But the main thing to remember is to keep your opening short and sweet because we want to mainly hear from the participants. Your role is to help set a tone that helps people to feel safe and welcome.

Since people will be roaming about for the first half hour of the event, it is important to give them a ten minute, five minute, then one minute notice that the circle is happening. Starting on time is really important because this honors those people who worked really hard to get to the event in time for the opening circle, or who left interesting conversations in order to be present.

Sitting in the circle with other participants as you open the circle will give people a feeling of equality. Here is the script:

On behalf of our sponsors, …………………….I want to welcome you to the Community: Connect! at the …………  We planned this event in hopes that you who are here will be able to collaborate, learn, and make meaningful connections which will have benefits even after you leave that will help make our world a better place.

First I want to go over some housekeeping.

The restrooms are….

The schedule is….

Water is…..

I encourage you to stay well hydrated. you can put your name on cups with the blue tape

If you have any questions during the event, you can talk to…….(perhaps they can stand and/or have special name tags)

During the next half hour, we will be getting to know each other, sharing a song, and creating a schedule of break out sessions. After that, we will have about 2 hours of break out sessions, and then return to this circle for closing connections.

You are free to move about at any time, especially after the opening circle. Please honor the boundaries of this venue which are:

First, let’s start with a song (hopefully a song leader will have been appointed to sing some kind of song that fits in with the idea of community and connection. Sing alongs are great) I want to introduce……. who is…….

(song is shared)

Thank you so much!

Now it is time for each of us to share what is called an “essence blurb” The purpose of this is to give everyone who wants to, to communicate very succinctly things about yourself which can help others get to know your essence. You will each get 30 seconds to answer the questions that are on the sheet. We choose to time each person for three reasons:

  1. Everyone gets an equal chance to talk so that each person can be
  2. We want to quickly get to the break out sessions so that everyone can be engaged in the groups they are most interested in.
  3. By giving everyone a quick opportunity to talk, people can get to know who they most want to connect with.

As we go around the circle, there are a few guidelines I want to share;

  1. As each person talks, I encourage you to give the person positive feedback by looking at the person with an expression of caring. Do your best to open your heart to the person and listen with empathy.
  2. When your time is up, signaled by the bell, please complete your thought in a sentence or two.
  3. if you don’t want to talk, please say “pass.” no one is pressured to talk.
  4. If you want to, you can finish the phrases on the sign that is in the center of the circle. If you can’t read it, let me know how I can support you.
  5. I have a (some kind of symbolic item) for you to share. Whoever is holding (item) talks, and everyone else listens.
  6. Here is the way you will know how your time is going. I will keep my hands wide apart and then slowly close them. When my hand go together like this (like praying hands) then it is time to finish up.

Okay. I will start. Then we will go clockwise.

(you can time in various ways. you can use a timer, a phone, or someone can hold a computer up so you can see the timer across from you. the latter is the best way)

(After everyone is done)

Thanks to everyone for sharing. i really appreciate the diversity in this group and the willingness for each of you to contribute.

Let’s stand up if you are able for just a minute and do a bit of stretching before our next phase. (so some kind of movement that is fun–perhaps even a song like hokey pokey to get some laughter going)

Now I want to introduce (whoever is doing the open space part–if it is you, then skip the intro)

(be sure to have the markers, painters tape and paper in middle of circle)











Set up: Day of Event

Boxes of supplies should be packed up already (see…)

Load vehicle

arrive at venue with at least 2 hours to set up. Determine ahead of time what needs to be done that are specific to that site.


Set up stations (predetermined)

put station location signs up immediately to orient volunteers

put tables near station signs (if a table is needed)

Assign volunteers stations and give them station set up package (includes a list of how to set up,  picture, checklist)

Volunteers Well labeled station material








Sign logistics

Signs are an essential part of the the event because it makes it easier for everyone to find things and stay organized.  Here are a few tips:

Color code signs so that people can see by the color what a category is, ie: restrooms, networking stuff, etc

Put arrows where needed


  • on walls: use painters tape, preferably on the back
  • on tables: use some kind of stiff backing so they will stay upright. If needed have sign on both sides for easy access.





Flow of event

:00 Sign in

Greeters help participants find stations/welcome/introduce people to each other

Participants put their materials at the proper stations (networking, coat/bags/etc.)

:25Ring Bell

:30 Opening circle (see additional description)

:45 Open space intro:

Break out groups (ring bell when each one is over and when start)

(includes meal time)

:00 Closing circle (1/2 hour

Hanging out afterwards

Clean up



Supply List



coloring books for adults

colored pencils


open space stuff

all signs

Blue tape

weights (if outdoor venue)

sponsors promo materials/display (for sponsors

your own networking materials (to promote your own profession and other affiliated groups

table coverings

money box


credit card processing tool

plastics display holders (optional )

name tags

cd player

dance music




81/2 x 11 paper (cut in half)


boxes and weights for garage-sale style signs outdoors

chalk for sidewalk signs

butcher paper for things like signs, murals, etc.

tables (you decide how many depending on stations)








all signs