“What material do you always carry in your trunk?”

I was recently asked this question by a mediation student during a seminar. I thought it was such a great question that I decided to write a blog post about it. Because I think there are few things more annoying than finding yourself without or with poor materials during a mediation session. Especially when you can avoid it.

Of course, it is ideal – and can be expected – that a hotel seminar room be well stocked with materials that are also fully functional. Pens, for example. But just to be on the safe side, I always carry some basic equipment in my trunk, which I would like to introduce to you today. To make it easy for you to find the various products on the Internet, I’ll provide links to each one.

First of all, I don’t carry any flipchart paper with me. However, there are mediations and workshops that I prepare at home on flipcharts, which I’ll then bring to the event. Unfortunately, flipchart creativity isn’t my strong suit. To make these flipcharts look reasonably respectable, I have a few books that provide welcome support in this department. 

There is a classic by Axel Rachow that you might be familiar with. The book is called The Flipchart Coach and contains professional tips. You can buy it on Amazon (https://amzn.to/3H6YW9X). Mr. Rachow explains very well and in great detail which pens you should use and how exactly you should conduct your hand. I don’t fully follow his recommendations. However, he lists many practical tips that have served me well over the years.

In order to support certain illustrations with visualizations, I also purchased another guide called Learn to Draw Business Symbols Easily (https://amzn.to/3AZLnFc). I’ve found it to be a great source of many helpful symbols that are easy to grasp and, more importantly, easy to draw.

By the way, some of the things you draw on the flipchart can also highlighted quite well through color coding, which also gives your design a visual edge. I always carry wax crayons with me for this purpose, and I like working with the Stockmar variety (https://amzn.to/3H2z3Ii).

But let’s go back to my trunk.

While I don’t carry flipchart paper, I do carry Post-it notes for emergencies, which have become very popular due to their role in agile working. They don’t take up much space, and because they’re self-adhesive, they can be stuck to walls, doors, and windows and removed without a trace. Just like the classic Metaplan cards, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. And they have one big additional advantage: You don’t need a metaplan board or pins. 

I usually carry two sizes of Post-it notes with me. The 203 x 152 mm ones (https://amzn.to/3Ut1YYN), which I use for brainstorming topics and interesting ideas, and the smaller 152 x 101 mm version (https://amzn.to/3ESVxsr), for notes.

I also believe it’s important not to use flipchart markers to write on the Post-it notes, nor classic ballpoint pens. Markers tend to be too thick and pens are often difficult to read later in a photo log. I always carry black Stabilo premium felt markers (https://amzn.to/3OYRek4). They’re a bit more expensive, but have a good grip, can be photographed legibly, and last forever.

Finally, I always have room in my trunk for at least one small moderation case with standard contents. These come in a variety of sizes, colors and materials, depending on your taste. Since I usually have both hands more or less full of stuff, I prefer either the shoulder-strap version from Neuland (https://de.neuland.com/shop/workshopkoffer-sets) or a mobile trolley presentation case (https://amzn.to/3ORcTudl). These usually contain other useful materials, such as flipchart markers. After all, how many times have I relied on the pens from the hotel presentation cases that turned out to be dry or out of ink? With my own presentation case, I can always be sure that I have pens that are fully functional and refilled. Of course, I check it regularly before I go on a business trip.

I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into my trunk. I’d be happy to give you more tips on how to improve your standard equipment. It was important for me to recommend specific products to you because I wanted the public transportation users among us to understand that what we typically need for appointments is not all that much and can easily be taken on the train – as I should know, having done it many times. 

In this spirit, I wish you a very reflective Christmas season. 

Go for it!

Your crisis manager

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