40 effective facilitation strategies

A group of keen learners

It is my belief that it is the small things that happen within a group setting that make the difference. Noticing someone, helping a person to realise something not pleasant about themself and save face during the experience, being purposeful and clear about our intentions, all lead to a much better result for the group we are working with.

Instruction giving

  1. When giving instructions to the group, do this from a standing position – it gives more authority to what you are saying.
  2. When there is a series of questions, decide which questions are the key ones to deliver, then deliver them one at a time.
  3. You can interrupt the group by saying, “pause in your discussion and move onto the next question.”
  4. The questions are specific in terms of talking about the talking (warm-up or refocusing), doing the talking questions or reflecting questions. The outcome from each question is therefore related to the purpose of the question.
  5. Do a process check by asking a group member to repeat the question, therefore allowing the group members to hear the question twice – also a good idea to write the question onto a flipchart or on the whiteboard. Also, you can circle around the sub-groups inquiring about their clarity of the task.

    Breaking group into sub-groups
  6. When breaking into sub-groups, get people to move before telling them what you want them to do.
  7. Use different sub-groups which achieves two aims. The first is to increase diversity of ideas within the group. The second is that it energises the group by creating movement.
    Dealing with complex concepts
  8. When dealing with relatively complex concepts, decide in your planning, as to the depth you want to take these ideas. Remember that early on in the session you are foundation building so your challenge is to provide a base on which to build.

    Processing and Scribing
  9. A good guideline is when processing what group members have generated, do this from a sitting position on the front edge of the group.
  10. Remember to lean forward in your chair to show attentive listening and engage with the group members.
  11. If your co-facilitator is scribing then sit on the opposite side of the room to the board. This gives you the best view of what is occurring in the group.

    Managing performance anxiety
  12.  At the beginning of sessions we can all be anxious so use the anxious energy to your advantage.
  13. Stand up and greet members as they enter the group.
  14. Feel free to move around in the initial phase.
  15. Remember the tips on breathing exercises prior to the group coming into the working space and during the first five minutes of the session remember to breathe deeply rather than shallow breathing.
  16. Be well prepared with your materials and ready to manaaki group members.
  17. Have undertaken your co-facilitation check-in prior to the session so you know where each person is at.

    Joining group members’ experiences
  18. An effective techniques to manaaki and awhi group members is to ask, “Who share the views that … has expressed?” or “Who can add to what ‘… has said?”
  19. Also try, “What can you add to what … has said?”

    Joining a group member after an absence
  20. Welcome the member back into the group.
  21. Ask the group members who were present in the last session to catch the person up with what they covered – this acts as revision as well as sharing of information
  22. If the absence is a planned one then it is best to deal with the issue in a low-key manner.
  23. If the issue is a more deliberate absence, then some explanation to the large group may be required – this can assist in the development of accountability.

    Supporting a group member to have their voice in the room
  24. When having group members respond by putting their material on the board, you can support them by standing on the opposite side, or sitting in close proximity. This can feel supportive for the person presenting and can give you some degree of control during the process.
  25. Provide affirmation for input.
  26. Ask the group what they make of the person’s effort.
  27. Coaching around clarifying the meaning of what the person has said.

    Doing the work while saving face
  28. Try to always be tolerant and understanding.
  29. Encouragement and praise are among the cheapest and best of all facilitation tools they are also among the least used.
  30. Imagination can play an important role in learning.  “Suppose you had to say what you would do?” or “What suggestion would you give someone else in this situation?”
  31. Try to make every member feel ‘involved’ – to feel they can share experiences freely, without fear of ‘losing face’.
  32. Real experiences are the most effective. Remember in the room is real.
  33. Words are the least effective teaching aid.

    General tips
  34. Be prepared to adjust each step, not only to the group as a whole but also to any individual in the group.
  35. Determine their readiness to learn through simple scaling questions, “How interested/ready are you to be in the room today?”
  36. What do you already know about … – find out their familiarity with what has to be learned
  37. How do you learn best (visual, auditory, kinesthetic (active), reader/writer).
  38. Assess how much repetition the group needs to take in new information, practice a new skill, or understand a new concept – this impacts upon their speed of learning.
  39. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and to imagine how you would feel, react, and behave if you were that person.

    And the last tip
  40. Really enjoy what you are doing, the group members and your co-worker. At this moment we are truly alive.
Published on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, under Practice tips and techniques

One Response to “40 effective facilitation strategies”

  1. Russell says:

    Wonderful tip list of things that work within the programmes room Simple, effective, and powerful.

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