How to be a fantastic Facilitator

Over the years a number of our clients have asked us how we learnt to be such great facilitators. A great facilitator makes it look easy, but it takes lots of planning and practice. Here are a few of our tips on how to be an excellent facilitator:

  • Prepare – Good facilitators make it look easy and natural because they have prepared in advance. Think about the ‘who, what, why, and how’.  Speak with key stakeholders to establish clear outcomes before the meeting/workshop.
  • Create the right environment – Make sure there’s enough space, a seating arrangement that is fit for purpose, natural light and if possible break out rooms or space for small group work if needed.
  • Value people and their ideas and get the best out of people
  • Establish and build trust
  • Think quickly and logically
  • Are excellent communicators
  • Are both product and process oriented
  • Make sure the purpose and process are clear
  • Establish expectations
  • Keep the energy high – Energy will ebb and flow throughout a session. Move participants around the room if possible. Focus their discussion with questions, ask for input, ideas and experience. Check your own energy levels, you will need to keep it high throughout the session.
  • Manage participation – Include the quieter participants by asking direct questions. Invite debate. Make sure you allow time for everyone in the room to be heard. Small group activities or individual work is just as important as large group sessions.
  • Understand and recognise group dynamics – You need to be aware of different personality styles, levels of engagement and behavioural styles in the room. Some facilitators are trained in behavioural profiles such as Myers Briggs, DISC or Enneagram.
  • Stay on task and on time – If the conversation is not relevant to the session’s subject, write it up and ‘park it’ for consideration later.
  • Adjust your facilitation style – The style needs to meet the needs of those in the room and the outcomes of the workshop. Watch what is happening, read the body language and adjust your style to match. You’re there to facilitate, so sometimes you’ll need to lead discussion, and sometimes you’ll need to ‘step back’.
  • Use a variety of group work techniques – This helps to maintain the levels of engagement within the group, and to support different learning and communication styles.
  • ‘Bring it home’ – You need to provide closure. Summarising the ideas, points and actions can do this. It can also be done through the evaluation process.