Facilitation 101

Facilitation 101, what does it mean to facilitate in this lesson, I’m going to walk through the fundamentals. Let’s start with the definition of facilitation, facilitate to make an action or process easy or easier to bring about an outcome by providing indirect or unobtrusive guidance, assistance or supervision.

Our job as a facilitator is to do exactly this. How groups through activities, instruction, guidance to do their best thinking, you have to step back from contributing content and focus purely on the process. So when we act as facilitators, we have four primary goals. First, encourage full participation. We have to ensure that everyone has a space to contribute and a democratic and comfortable way. No to promote mutual understanding. As a facilitator, it’s our job to make sure everyone is aligned and speaking that same language. We often do this through creating shared visuals and artifacts. Three foster inclusive decisions. The output of a workshop is only as useful as everyone believes in it. This by it and accountability comes from participatory decision making, concrete and conclusions and next steps that everyone can really get behind and forth cultivate shared responsibility as facilitators. We are the protectors of the democracy. Within the workshop, we help the group identify who will be responsible for what in a way that is shared and fair. So we have what it means to facilitate and we have four goals. So next, I want to give you a framework of guidelines to practice. First and most fundamental is practice a constant state of active listening. Do not interpret what others have to say. You want to guide them towards a better expression themselves. Listen to truly understand rather than listening to react. Second guideline, create space.

Use your role as a facilitator to invite people to contribute, even those who may be quiet and reserved. If someone looks like they want to speak, invite them to. Was there something you wanted to say? Did you have an idea? You look like you may have an opinion on this. Third, improvise. There is no one technique that’s always going to work. It’s a situational matter of group dynamics, attitudes and goals. You can plan ahead, but you have to be ready to adapt to what’s happening in the moment forth. Be authentic. You don’t have to pretend you know everything, nor is it your role to as a facilitator. You’re an expert in the process, not the content. I’ve seen a range of incredible facilitators and they all have their own style. Some are reserved, others are bubley like me. Others are stern and straightforward. Your style should be authentic to who you really are. Five Avoid advice as a facilitator, you should be objective. At times it’s appropriate to express your viewpoint, but never as a should or this is what I would do. This can be really hard, but it’s very important. Start by avoiding phrases like I would if I were you. You should lastly embrace conflict. Conflict has a bad reputation, but it’s actually extremely productive. Disagreement is the natural result of different personalities, different views, all those different opinions. The last fundamental piece of facilitation, one on one is really building out your toolkit. Master facilitators all reference having a toolbox of methods that they can pull on during a workshop in planned or improvised ways. So what’s in a toolbox? I think about it in three sections. First tools. These are the materials you use to create artifacts and then the second section activities.

These are the interactive foundational methods you use to encourage ideas, explore themes. And then the third section are those techniques, the ways you can intervene, encourage maneuver conversation between participants over time. Your goal is to expand the tools, activities and techniques you have in your facilitator toolkit.

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