Facilitation, training and lecturing are three different session components that require three completely different skill sets. Whether you’re looking to refresh your facilitation skills or just starting out, below are some things you should be doing before, during and after your sessions to ensure they’re as successful as possible.
It’s important to leave your thoughts and opinions at the door. You’re there as a guide and a coach, not the expert. The experts are within the group; they are the ones with the answers and knowledge, so let the group experts take the lead.
As you allow experts to lead, you’ll need to remain in charge of the conversation. Timing and planning play large roles in the facilitation process. So, create an agenda or general roadmap beforehand and make it available. By including a roadmap, it will be easier to keep the conversations on track.
Before heading into your facilitation session, set a clear purpose. Do you want the group to generate an action plan or create a to-do list? Regardless of what the goal is, you should establish a purpose in advance.
When planning your objectives, consider what the participants may need to be successful. If you think that resources such as note cards, markers or props would be useful during the session, bring them. As a facilitator, plan and predict what the group may need to reach the goal of the session.
It’s important to set ground rules and follow up on them regularly throughout the session. Make sure that you set clear expectations for participants. Your ground rules should clearly explain what “good” looks like. What kind of behaviors do you find exceptional? As an extra tip, make sure that your participants get buy-in. Let the group come up with some session ground rules and guidelines that they think are necessary for a successful session.
As a facilitator, encourage positive behaviors and discourage negative ones. Below are a few examples of what should be encouraged and discouraged in facilitation sessions.
Positive behaviors to encourage:
- Active participation
- Unique ideas
- Encouraging participation from other group members
Negative behaviors to discourage:
- Rejection of ideas
- Conversation domination
It’s your job to keep the session flowing and the conversation going. Be sure to frequently restate the objectives of the session so that participants keep the end-goal top of mind.
Just as with any group session, evaluate the overall success of your facilitation. Did the session meet the preplanned purpose and come to an end solution? Take a step back to reflect and determine improvements for your next session.
As a wrap up, be sure to send out an update and summary of the session. If there are action steps or a to-do list that the group should be taking with them, be sure to distribute it. This is a vital piece of closing etiquette; it will ensure the group understands new expectations that were created from the session.