Organizations I work with are increasingly investing in in-house facilitation skills. This trend is in response to the need to:
- create more transparent and inclusive decision making process;
- increase the use of teams (project and cross-functional);
- manage costs associated with hiring external consultants; and
- build internal capacity.
As a result of this trend, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time training staff on skills and techniques needed to be effective internal facilitators. Below is an excerpt from one of the handouts I share during the Facilitation Skills Institute. It’s a simple checklist of things to think about in preparation for, during, and as follow up to a facilitation experience. It’s not all-inclusive; it reflects practices that have worked well for me over the past 15 years. For the facilitators among my readers, I hope you find it helpful.
Facilitator Best Practices
- Know the audience (size, demographics, reason for event)
- Know the exact amount of time for delivering content
- Create and share a draft design of the session/workshop with your client
- Send a pre-session/workshop message to participants
- Prepare and pack back-up materials, just in case
- new markers, drafting dots, flash drive, laptop, clean print copy of all session handouts
- Practice, practice, review, practice
- Arrive at least one hour before the schedule start time
- Make sure that the meeting room is set up at least 30 minutes before start time, including testing A/V
- Have a sign posted letting people know that they are in the correct space and providing any necessary instructions (seating, create name tags, etc.)
- Welcome people as they arrive
- Take time for nesting
- Agenda, norms, housekeeping, self and group introductions
- Use the kick off as your time to establish credibility as the facilitator
- Give credentials, reason for your contribution, and do not downplay your experience or role
- Do not depend too much on slides. Use them as guides for the participants, not for you.
- Blend presentation/delivery of content with structured exercises and discussion
- When using an exercise, give instructions verbally and visually
- Pay attention to the nonverbal communication
- Facilitation is not presentation
- Manage time well but don’t let time take priority over meeting the needs of the group
- Be prepared to answer questions that are ancillary to your core topic. If you don’t know the answer, acknowledge and offer to follow up. Then follow up!
- Exude confidence
Closing the Session
- Remind participants about what was covered during the session/workshop
- Invite them to reflect openly about the session
- Option 1: Ask each person to share one take-away. This is a sure-fire way to end on a high note.
- Option 2: Use Plus/Delta as quick and simple session evaluation. It is important here to not rationalize or explain things that show up on the Delta side of the chart. Listen, scribe, tell the person “thank you” for sharing the feedback, and do something differently next session, to the extent that you are able, in response to the feedback.
- Share your contact information
- Thank participants for their role in the session’s/workshop’s success