An inspiring and insightful article about facilitation from Paula Wellings of Adaptive Path, the San Francisco-based design company - maybe the best I've read.
Honour the gathering. In this ever more interrupt-driven digital world, it's a challenge to bring together all the right people at the same time to think, make and solve problems that are too complex for just a few people to figure out. Gatherings of this magnitude need opening ceremonies to acknowledge the value of the time we are about to spend together. Typically these ceremonies don't include marching bands or fireworks (although that would be cool), but there are small and simple actions that help us all recognize that this is a sacred time. These small things include sending out invitations ahead of time, providing food and drink, creating an environment where people can focus without laptops or smart phones, welcoming and orienting people to our day together, and having the client sponsor begin the workshop with essentially an opening blessing for the people gathered and the work we will accomplish.