Facilitation: Attributes of a Facilitator

Facilitators brings everything they have to the session: their knowledge, their skills and themselves. Don’t discount any of this. Remember to use all of your assets throughout the session!

A good facilitator must be able to:

  • Think logically
  • Exercise patience
  • Listen actively
  • Summarize accurately and quickly
  • Lead
  • Observe
  • Have a positive attitude

Facilitators are leaders

Facilitators serve the sponsor of the meeting as well as the session participants. The agenda reflects the goals and the approach that the facilitator will use to achieve those goals. It is a role that is both leader and servant. Here are important aspects of leadership for facilitators:

  • Know your audience and know the goals for the session
  • Be flexible with time and people, but not subject matter
  • Treat remote participants as equal to those in the room
  • Draw people into the conversation without embarrassing them
  • Use body language and presence properly
  • Anticipate potential questions, answers and reactions
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Exercise control of yourself and of the session.
    • Don’t allow excess chit chat
    • Don’t let audience members take over
    • Don’t let technical people overwhelm the group with too much detail
    • Don’t allow rude, mean, destructive behavior
    • Don’t be sarcastic
    • Don’t be afraid of conflict

Facilitators are always growing in knowledge and skills

Facilitation requires knowledge and skills. Facilitators can always be developing their competencies. Here are some areas of knowledge to develop:

  • adult learning principles
  • organizational, job, and individual performance indicators
  • instructional design and development
  • diversity awareness as it relates to the implications of participants and learning
  • methods and tactics to get organizational buy-in and support
  • group dynamics
  • tactics for coaching and feedback
  • the goals, strategies, and challenges of the organization

Here are skills to develop:

  • operating equipment in the room
  • writing on flipcharts: preparing standard charts and recording participants’ comments in a way that keeps conversation going
  • communicating verbally to present information
  • communicating nonverbally: body positioning, gestures, facial expressions
  • summarizing and paraphrasing participant input
  • providing coaching and feedback
  • listening actively and effectively
  • planning learning activities
  • thinking in terms of systems to see interrelationships among participants’ input by recognizing the connecting patterns