Becoming a Better Facilitator (Part 2)

Applying the basic skills of facilitation will allow you to manage a group and bring about a successful outcome for your group. But to really perform well, it is useful to have a few tricks and techniques to call upon.

Even though our voice is our primary tool in facilitation, studies have demonstrated that only 7% of what we communicate is in the words that are spoken. 33% is how the words are said and 55% of meaning is in facial expression and body language.

Try applying these verbal and non-verbal techniques to enhance your facilitation style.

Verbal Techniques

  • Alter the tone and volume for the effect you want. Fast, loud and energetic to create enthusiasm, clear and direct to take control again.
  • Use open questions to encourage answers that have more content than Yes or No. ‘What happened?’, ‘How can we fix that?’, ‘What have we learned’ all demand more than a one word answer.
  • Use encouragement. Often a sound or the word ‘and’ can bring out more information and they are less disruptive to the thought process than saying ‘Great point!’
  • Parrot phrase for clarity, repeating the exact words back slowly to the group so that you demonstrate you are listening and that you want to clarify the point being made.
  • Imply questions and commands with the tone of your voice. Make a statement and raise the tone of the last syllable so that it implies a question. Ask a question and lower the last syllable so that it implies a command.
  • Refer to a point and ask what the rest of the group think. ‘ Frank has an excellent point, can anyone see how we can apply that?’

Non-Verbal Techniques

  • Attentiveness – Be attentive and focus on the individual speaking. This allows you to demonstrate to the group that you are listening and makes both you and the speaker the centre of attention.
  • Location – Move around the room so that you can identify those that are not engaging in the process or are checking their blackberry! Standing near someone can often be intimidating enough to make them rejoin the group.
  • Use Silence – Silence is useful to encourage more from the speaker. They will often become increasingly uncomfortable with the silence and feel the need to fill the gap. Don’t leave it too long though as you may lose momentum with the group.
  • Body Language -Use open gestures and stances to demonstrate approachability. If you find someone who is a little reluctant to speak, close the distance and lower yourself to their level so that they feel more confident.

Common Pitfalls

These are some easy traps to fall into. You will probably commit more than one in the early days…I still do!

  • Finding the solution for the group – You may see the solution so clearly and want to guide the discussion, but it is essential that the group find their own solution as their Involvement generates their commitment!
  • Don’t play the expert – you may be the expert, but no-one iS as smart as everyone in the room together, so draw the answer out of the group. You may be too close to the problem as an expert and not see and alternative approach!
  • Don’t manipulate the words you hear so that they fit into your pre conceived solution – Parrot phrase not paraphrase or you are in danger of stamping your opinion on the groups outcome.
  • Don’t let one person dominate the floor – Be good humoured and say ‘ thanks for that Bill I think you have made you point’ then move on quickly by asking someone for their viewpoint.
  • Disappearing down rabbit holes – keep the outcome in view and make sure that the conversation is moving in that direction. It is all too easy to become side tracked rather than focus on the point at hand.

With practise and repetition, these points should help you become a better facilitator. All that is required is a little confidence and practise.
Dare to Aspire


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