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Preparing for the Great American Eclipse

Sometimes, you just need to grab a bucket and have the experience you need to have.


For some, August 21, 2017 is a big day. Many people have spent months preparing for the events of today. Today is first day in 38 years that the moon will completely block the sun from the view in many United States cities as well as partially block the sun in the majority of the rest of the states.

How we prepare for major events influence our experiences. Many people maybe simply aware of the celestial event occurring today, caring little more than to wander outside and check it out if prompted. More dedicated individuals have been planning vacations to be in a location that celebrates a full eclipse; they know the location of the totality, possess correct eyewear, and have researched total eclipse facts, i.e. it can only happen during a new moon, to get the most out of their experience. I am somewhere in between. I live in a place where we will see 93% coverage around 10:30 AM, and all of the news surrounding the eclipse has me moderately interested.

Everyone has their own approach to events and this is important as we consider training development and facilitation. What can we learn about facilitators and participants as we observe their interest in this rare affair? Let’s look at it through our AAS approved eclipse glasses.

The event complacency
Ancient Mayans used to gaze into Cenotes to safely view the Eclipse. While I don’t have access to a deep pool of clear water, nor do I currently possess eclipse glasses, I do have a bucket and tap water. Not everyone is going to enthusiastically walk into a training with all the tools you feel they need.. Worse yet, some people don’t want to be there, especially if the training was mandated. You can’t force your participants to be enthusiasts before the event. While preparation, on both the part of the facilitator and the participants, can make a great training, you can’t make everyone prepare in the same way. Sometimes, you just need to grab a bucket and have the experience you need to have.

The overcast contingency
The solar eclipse in 1979 that occurred in the Pacific Northwest happened on an unfortunately cloudy day. The 2017 eclipse occurs during a prolific fire season in the same area. It is possible that people will travel and prepare for today, only to find out clouds or smoke will obscure their view.

How we handle ourselves when plans going awry is extremely important. A few years ago I prepared for a talk under the assumption that I would have two free hands during the session. When I approached the lectern for this event, they handed me a microphone! It threw me off and I was disappointed when I finished knowing my talk wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. But I adapted, and this is an important moment in all trainers’ lives. Anyone who has been in front of a group of people has been through a moment like this. You have a choice: throw a fit and walk away or adapt and make the most of your time.

The diurnal star gazer
Until I did some research, it didn’t occur to me that we may see stars and planets during the Eclipse! This fun little side effect of daytime darkness compliments the experience with the unusual ability to look for Venus or Jupiter while sipping my morning coffee.

When I build or deliver training, I try to put something fun and unexpected in there as a little Easter egg for my trainees. These little nuggets can be the icing on the cake, not only for the participants, but for the facilitators as well.

How do you prepare for training events? Do you account for the unprepared bucket gazers? Do you treat people to daytime Jupiter glimpses? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

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