Traditional PD research offers a range of methods for participant engagement. Yet little is shared of the microdynamics of participation at its most intense, when the designer as facilitator is challenged by a range of social contingencies. Engaging people in change can be a messy process, especially when emotions run high. This paper explores two situations where communities were asked to collaborate on disaster mitigation plans and looks at how facilitation took place to engage with these concerns. It considers the relationship between method and its enactment, between the participatory practitioner and participant group, and between intention and outcome. In doing so, it questions the prevalent research culture that anonymises facilitation and its agency. Instead, we offer a more synthesised reading of practice, by focusing on aspects that compound the designers' task, such as the dynamics of the group and emotions manifested by participants. We argue that we need to orientate towards understanding the designers' participatory practice, rather than reporting participatory methods alone. The act of engaging others involves an embodied knowing, with moment-by-moment shifts in position, focus and delivery. Acknowledging this involves a rethink of our frameworks for reflecting and reporting on design.