Facilitation

by Steve Roche

Output from a facilitated event

The output from an event is any material that needs to be captured and kept, usually so that it can be distributed after the event. Output may take many forms, including ideas, questions, decisions, outcomes, issues, actions, plans and designs.

It is important to think about this in the planning stage and decide

  • What kind of output will this event produce and who will need to see it?
  • What are the best techniques for capturing it and who is the best person to do this?
  • What is the appropriate format in which to present documentation and who will be responsible for compiling and distributing it?

The format and type of output should be decided in relation to achieving the goals of the meeting or workshop. Participants may gain significant benefit simply from being involved in the event; indeed, sometimes the interactions, networking and team-building are a specific part of the objectives.

Often, however, a formal record is required, because without it ideas are quickly lost.

Who receives the output?

Output is normally distributed to the people who were present at the event, but may also need to be copied to other interested parties. These might include the owner (if they were not present), relevant senior managers and other people with a vested interest, plus anyone who will be affected by the decisions made or who needs to be involved in the follow-up actions.

The format

In some cases it may be necessary to produce a formal set of minutes. In other cases, it may be sufficient to collate brainstorming ideas onto flip charts.

Documentation is often directly typed into a computer, but other methods may be more appropriate. For example, the flip chart sheets that participants have created represent a powerful visual memory of the event, so it may be wise to encourage them to use the actual flips afterwards rather than relying on transcribed notes.

The scribe

The main skill of a scribe is the ability to write or type while listening carefully. The job requires a high level of concentration and a significant ability to analyse complex information. Do not underestimate this task! It may not be prudent to allocate it to someone who normally operates only in a clerical role.

Tip

If you find or develop a really good scribe, look after them!

A competent scribe shares many of the same skills and abilities as a facilitator. It is often difficult to find people who have the right qualities and who are happy to perform this role. A good solution is to use a co-facilitator or a trainee facilitator. If this is not viable, consider co-opting a willing participant.