Facilitation skills

Effectively facilitating a group meeting requires the ability to lead and manage the process in a way which ensures that the objectives are achieved, the agenda is followed and all participants feel engaged and included. This skill is applicable in many internal meetings such as project planning or strategy meetings, as well as in meetings with clients when negotiating, discussing planned assignments or reporting back with deliverables. Facilitation skills are also highly practical to anyone involved in delivering training events (internally or with clients) which require the participation of the audience.

Examples of the underlying learning objectives for this workshop include:

  • To develop the confidence and competence of the participants to run effective, productive and informative group meetings,
  • To develop understanding of the skills required to:
    • establish their role in the meeting,
    • manage the group process and dynamics,
    • effectively explore, probe and confirm understanding
  • To develop participants’ ability to create a practical process (i.e. agenda) for running group meetings, and to develop an appropriate methodology (e.g. sets of questions and way of collecting and reporting data) to reach the intended objectives.

Example content:

  1. Understanding the role of the facilitator in the group
    • explaining the role of the facilitator as information gatherer, influencer, and change agent,
    • developing understanding of the importance of the facilitator’s personal impact, (i.e. focusing on appropriate use of words, voice and body language),
    • developing awareness and understanding of the group – observing and making sense of 1) own assumptions, intuition and feeling and 2) the group activity and dynamics.
  2. Skills of intervening and facilitating
    • use of personal energy and communication to influence the flow and direction of a conversation,
    • developing questioning and listening skills – exploring the different types of questions and levels of listening,
    • developing understanding and practicing the different styles of group facilitation – i.e. directive (taking charge), cooperative (working with the group), space-giving (stepping back from the group),
    • developing understanding and practicing John Heron’s six styles of intervention for working with groups – Supportive (valuing the participant), Prescriptive (directing the activity), Confronting (challenging actions, opinions and attitudes), Informative (providing new information or insights), Catalytic (help the group ‘do it’ for themselves), and Cathartic (helping the group move through unhelpful emotion).
  3. Techniques to manage the process
    • presenting methods to manage the agenda of a team discussion to ensure underlying objectives are met,
    • explaining the principles of co-operative inquiry (a participative process which focuses on doing research with people not on them) and appreciative inquiry (a collaborative approach focusing on and developing from the positive aspects of organisational life). Both approaches influence the design (e.g. types of questions) and style of the a team meeting,
    • managing the energy of the group and collecting data through the use of tasks/exercises – outlining possible ways of breaking the whole group into smaller activity groups,
    • methods for documenting, analysing and reporting on the data collected.