Rural Support Partners, mission-driven management consultants with a participatory approach to create lasting, equitable change in rural areas. Rural community and economic development.

Improving Virtual Meetings with the SCARF Model

Improving Virtual Meetings with the SCARF Model

In our last blog, “Seven Reasons Why Virtual Meetings Suck,” we discussed the challenges of facilitating and attending virtual meetings. In this blog, we take a look at the underlying problems at play in the virtual space that can make virtual meetings a miserable part of the work day.

The SCARF Model of Engagement

The SCARF Model, developed by the founder of NeuroLeadership Institute, David Rock, explains human behavior and needs in social situations using five domains: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. In short, we need to feel positively in all five domains in order to feel safe and engaged in social interactions. 

Virtual meetings deprive us of needs in every one of those domains. That’s the real reason why they suck. Thankfully, we have tools and tips that will help facilitators and participants alike feel safe, included, and supported in virtual meetings. But first, let’s understand the five domains of the SCARF Model as they relate to virtual meetings.

SCARF Model and Virtual Meetings

Applying the SCARF Model to Participatory Facilitation

As participatory facilitators in the virtual space, we must develop and utilize a set of tools and mindsets to meet these challenges and ensure participants’ social needs are met. You may need to be flexible and get creative to address and accommodate for problems as they arise. Trust that participants will do what they need to do from wherever they are joining to participate in the call. Doing so will bolster participation and engagement so that everyone can contribute and get the most out of the meetings we facilitate. To enhance participatory facilitation using the SCARF Model, consider the following strategies:

  • Status: Recognize and acknowledge the contributions of each participant. This creates a sense of equal importance and value.
  • Certainty: Provide clear objectives and expectations for the meeting. This ensures that participants understand their roles and the desired outcomes.
  • Autonomy: Encourage participants to take ownership of their ideas and contributions. This empowers them to make decisions and drive the discussion.
  • Relatedness: Foster a sense of belonging by creating opportunities for collaboration, team building, and open communication.
  • Fairness: Ensure that all participants have equal access to resources, information, and opportunities for participation.

Virtual meetings suck because they easily deprive us of our social needs. By keeping participants’ social needs in mind, we can create a positive and inclusive environment that encourages active engagement and equitable, meaningful participation. Following the strategies outlined above can help participatory facilitators make virtual meetings more successful, productive, and even enjoyable for everyone involved.

Up Next:

Next week, we’ll be sharing a three-part series with tips on what participatory facilitators can do before, during, and after virtual meetings to meet these challenges and ensure that participants’ social needs are met. So stay tuned for the first blog in this series focusing on preparation tips to ensure your meeting starts off on the right foot for everyone involved.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can develop your facilitation skills? Join us in the New School of Participatory Change in our Participatory Facilitation course. In this online cohort experience, you’ll work with us to develop your own practical approach to facilitating participatory conversations, whether in front of a computer or in front of a room.  

Click here to learn more about the New School and how we can help you become a better participatory facilitator and changemaker.

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