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Context Before Content

About Context Before Content

Definition: Connecting the purpose of why people are meeting; to connect people to each other; to create a choice for authenticity and vulnerability by asking a question. Your question or activity must accomplish these three things:

  • Connect people to the purpose of why they’re there

  • Connect people to each other because without relatedness, no work can occur.

  • Create space for authenticity and vulnerability

Value: When people understand the purpose of the meeting the result is improved  engagement from participants.  Relationships created through the connection boosts performance on cognitive tasks.

WSU Tech Session Video

Select the title above to watch Chad Littlefield discuss Context Before Content with WSU Tech faculty (1 hour 40 minutes). If you are asked to sign in to view the video, use your WSU Tech credentials.

Examples and Resources

Video: Connection Before Content by We and Me (Video)

Video Summary: Will Wise (Co-Founder & Chief Weologist) talks about the importance of  connection before content.  Connection before content is a concept coined by Peter Block, an American author, consultant, and speaker in the areas of organization development, community building, and civic engagement. 

Video: Connection Before Content Virtual Exercise with We! Connect Cards

Video Summary: Chad briefly showcases how to create an experience that breaks the norm of meeting virtually.  He uses the We Engage cards for building connection by increasing the presence of psychological safety (improve student comfort). 

Classroom Activities 

Activity: Asking Powerful Questions 

Engaging Activity Summary: Ask audience to form groups of three or four, give them a powerful question to discuss/answer. The open-ended question is a vehicle for making connection among the group with goal is to keep the question connected to the purpose, such as "What are you aiming to achieve at work and what about that is important?" (A powerful question makes them think about what is going on in their world.)

Activity: Making Something Invisible, Visible 

Engaging Activity Summary: Participants select an image, engagement cards, or prop representing an abstract topic/idea, such as psychological safety. This connects a "concrete" object to an inanimate idea. Have participants pop-corn out how their image relates to the idea/topic. Use this activity in a face-to-face or virtual class meeting. 
 

Jump to topic resources and examples by selecting the link below.