I believe facilitation is a learned artform that’s tailored to a Facilitator’s core strengths. But to learn is to experiment! On my Facilitator journey, I’ve discovered a few quick tips and tricks that have led to successful facilitation. I encourage you to experiment with these techniques to discover your own unique approach to facilitation!
First – Do No Harm.
As a Facilitator, my intent is to guide a conversation to its desired outcome. I want to lead with empathy and use assertiveness only to course correct the dialogue - not to do harm. When facilitating, I’m kind, patient, and understanding.
Be Prepared but Flexible.
I want to know the agenda and desired outcome of the conversation but realize that the agenda might be completely scrapped, and things could go sideways, so I’m flexible. I prepare materials beforehand so I can actively engage and evolve with the conversation if/when needed.
Allow Priorities to Shift and to Emerge.
I don’t assume the agenda will go as planned. I’m ready for priorities to shift – and I’m okay with that. I focus first on the relationship and the partnership. It’s okay for the priority to shift.
Quality Over Time.
For me, quality is more important than time when facilitating. If I only have 2 minutes to drive a conversation to a desired outcome, then it becomes the most important 2 minutes in my day. I don’t need 45 minutes for a powerful facilitation moment.
Identify “No-Fly Zones.”
If there are topics that I’m not comfortable covering or facilitating through, I state it upfront. I also respect the “no-fly zones” of participants and steer the conversation back on track when needed. I’m honest and clear about boundaries.
I own the facilitation of the conversation! I announce that I’ll be serving as a Facilitator to drive the conversation toward the desired outcome. As I facilitate, I keep the bigger picture in mind, and I read the room and read the participants. I watch body language, facial cues, and carefully listen. I honor the timebox by concluding on-time with action items and next steps.