Top Tips for Facilitators

Facilitation n. the act or process of making things easier!

A good facilitator…

... is inclusive

  • Make sure that everyone feels welcome, and avoid using jargon or in-jokes if you have new members.
  • Listen, and encourage everyone to do the same. Make space for people to speak if others are speaking over them.
  • Think about accessibility – is the room easy to find, is the space wheelchair accessible, and can everyone see the screen if you’re using one?
  • Make an effort to get to know and people’s names if you don’t already know them.
  • Be sensitive to the feelings of others.

...can lead

  • Know when to move things on, especially when in meetings so that decisions can be made.
  • Bring people back to the topic at hand if they go off on a tangent—this can happen quite frequently! Although you obviously shouldn’t be overbearing or bossy, it is up to you to make sure the meeting or session achieves what it set out to.

... will energise

  • Try to start the session with a good dose of energy like an icebreaker.
  • Plan a few different types of activity within the session. If the energy level starts to dip, getting people to move around can sometimes help.

... is prepared

  • Make sure you are well-prepared and have a good idea of what the meeting needs to achieve, or the aims of the session, before you get started.
  • Get to the room a little bit early so you can set things up. Make sure you have enough chairs for everyone. Gather together the materials you need e.g. pens, paper, flipchart etc.

... can evaluate

  • Bring everyone together at the end to share their thoughts on what you’ve covered – what have people learned? Was anything particularly interesting?
  • Ask for feedback. You could ask people to fill in an evaluation form, or for something less formal, use big sheets of paper and post it notes to collect people’s opinions on what worked well, and what could be improved.

Tools for Facilitation

  1. Creative mapping - If you are trying to come up with ideas for something, get a big bit of paper and write up the ideas that people shout out. Group things together that are similar, or link things together under different headings e.g. publicity, speakers. Use different colours or shapes for making connections. This is particularly helpful for people who think and learn in a visual way and makes a good record of the session if you need one.
  2. Silence - This might not work with all groups! But if things are getting heated or you can’t seem to come to a consensus about something then have a period of silence for people to pray, reflect and gather their thoughts.
  3. Co-facilitation - Facilitating can be quite draining so if it’s going to be a long session ask someone to co-facilitate with you, with each taking on specific sections.
  4. The ‘conch’ - Useful when people tend to interrupt each other and quiet members of the group struggle to make themselves heard. Take an object— traditionally a conch shell (hence the name) but could be a book, a pen, a ball, a cuddly toy etc. People can only speak if they are holding the ‘conch’. It can be passed around the group in turn or returned to the middle when someone has finished speaking.
Resource type: 
How To Guide
Resource theme: 
Running a Group
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