Module 1: Introduction
“The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding, and cultivates shared responsibility.”
Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making by Sam Kaner, et al.
Facilitation is a process in which a leader guides a group toward sharing ideas, opinions, and experiences to achieve a common goal. That group leader is called a ‘facilitator’.
Facilitation skills can help you make training sessions, webinars, audio or conference calls, and meetings much more effective and fruitful. You will see deeper engagement among group members, build better relationships with participants, see greater implementation of learning, generate more leads, and gather more feedback. Facilitation skills can help you achieve the goal of any group session you lead, whatever the main purpose is.
For those running courses, webinars and workshops, facilitation skills are critical for helping students thoroughly understand a topic and move forward to implement it. Such skills are valuable for small business owners and entrepreneurs in their search for new ways to connect with prospective customers and clients. Small business owners and team leaders can also use facilitation skills in additional situations such as conference presentations, meeting customers and prospects in-person.
A critical skill in today’s world is the ability to engage your audience. Engagement simply means that your audience is fully involved in the encounter. Engagement is paramount in any situation where you want group participation. In these settings, information sharing and discussion should be collaborative and reciprocal. Many people still use an “instructor” approach here, which is top-down and which offers few opportunities for participation.
If your business meetings or seminars have you at the center doing all of the talking, this is a warning sign that you are failing to engage your audience and you need to refresh your approach.
Even if you’re successfully engaging your participants, the application of new facilitation skills can help you find further ways to improve. Facilitation skills can also be used to enhance the team dynamics among your staff, virtual employees, or colleagues.