Facilitation

by Steve Roche

Common questions

  1. Why is facilitation an important business skill?
  2. Why do you need a facilitator for your event?
  3. How do you develop facilitation skills?
  4. What are the key skills of a facilitator?
  5. Why shouldn’t I facilitate my own workshops?
  6. Who should be a facilitator?

 

1. Why is facilitation an important business skill?

We have all at some time felt that a business meeting was a waste of time. People get bored, frustrated or cynical when little is accomplished and when there is nothing much to inspire or motivate. Facilitation is about creating an environment where things can move forward – by clarifying, simplifying and assisting in making things happen.

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2. Why do you need a facilitator for your event?

In many situations an objective eye is vital to

  • Stop people wasting time
  • Get them out of routine
  • Get things moving forward.

Facilitation removes antagonism, distrust and an adversarial attitude from the start. It helps people to see further than their own view of the world and their need to be right.

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3. How do you develop facilitation skills?

Here are some good ways to move into the facilitator role:

  • Undertake formal training specifically in facilitation
  • Volunteer for scribe roles, so you get to watch experienced facilitators in action
  • Work as a co-facilitator (for example, running syndicate groups)
  • Gain direct experience on the job (in at the deep end)
  • Build the right skill set through other relevant training and experience.

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4. What are the key skills of a facilitator?

It takes a special skill to see with fresh eyes every time you work with a group – a skill often present in a good mediator or chairperson. More than impartiality, it’s the setting aside of your own prejudices and opinions so that another view (and the person holding that view) can be validated. It’s about creating a non-judgemental and objective environment, where people feel they can air their opinions without getting shot down or humiliated.

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5. Why shouldn’t I facilitate my own workshops?

A workshop owner is not the best person to run the event themselves.

  • They will find it hard to contribute and even harder to step back from their own opinions and fully hear all views expressed.
  • They will inevitably have an agenda, preventing them being open to all possibilities.

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6. Who should be a facilitator?

It takes a high level of skill and self-awareness, plus a demanding combination of aptitudes and abilities. Good facilitators are rare – which makes it a skill well worth developing. To be really effective you need

  • Excellent rapport skills
  • A high level of emotional intelligence
  • Clarity about what you are there to do.

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