Facilitation: Top 10 Tips

Facilitation: Top 10 Tips

Learning Objectives: To feel comfortable and confident leading sessions with the facilitation model.

  1. As a facilitator, take yourself out of the participation process. You are there to guide the group, not participate. During the debrief, don’t tell groups what they learned. ASK them what they experienced and learned, using a debriefing methodology (we use Kolb’s What, So What, Now What model) . 
  2. Promote participation by everyone in the group. The sequencing, flow, and pacing should be in your control, and arranged so that participant involvement is maximized.  Give everyone a chance to speak/participate. Try small group discussions, turn to a partner, writing their ideas/thoughts down first. Use the boomerang technique to pose a question back to the whole group. This helps remind us that we don’t have to give all the answers. Use the knowledge/experience of the group! 
    • Some useful tools – summarize accurately, noticing who’s talking and who’s not, encourage quiet people, and ask talkative people to wait.  
  3.  Encourage participants to direct responses to one another, not you.
  4. During a debrief, acknowledge people’s comments before moving on to the next comment. 
  5. Keep questions simple! Try and keep one discussion on the floor at a time.
  6.  Don’t let participants get away with giving canned answers, such as “Teamwork”, “Communication”. Make them clarify! (e.g. “How did you demonstrate teamwork?” or “What was effective about communication?”) Otherwise, debriefs are too short and nothing is learned or applied. It helps to apply activities and models to real situations, or ask them to, as opposed to talking about it abstractly or theoretically.  
  7. Recognize when giving feedback to individuals is appropriate. The process can sometimes engage the four fears (see #9) and become a cause for discontent, defensiveness or disengagement. Find a way to do that after the fact and use any tools that have been initiated in the group, such as feedback contracts. 
  8. Make it fun – smile – say thank you – but be serious when the session is serious. Demonstrate interest in your group!
  9.  Be aware of the four fears, in adolescents, adults and yourself. Facilitate in a way that seeks to reduce these four fears from coming true.       
    •  Fear of being wrong   
    •  Fear of losing    
    •  Fear of rejection    
    •  Fear of emotional discomfort
  10.  Develop tools to become comfortable with silence. Mix your methods. If you tend to have them get into small groups, then try individual reflections first. If you usually have large group discussions, try small groups or pairs. Be aware and change it up!  

Honorable Mentions

  • Keep time during activities like brainstorming sessions. It helps to keep the agenda flowing on schedule and also can be used as a tool to promote creativity, competitive spirit and fun!
  • Use your returning participants effectively. Engage them early on to talk about their role within the group. This can be espeically useful to get them on your side!
  • Transition appropriately from fun to serious.  Set the tone for each session!  For example, have the group take a deep breath, close their eyes or take a break.
  • Use technology and music to mix things up!