As clients demand a more inclusive and participative approach from suppliers, good facilitation skills are essential to the success of big projects. Knowing how to facilitate a workshop and how to run an effective meeting are clearly crucial skills to have, but what is it that they involve?
In 2005, Ingrid Bens wrote the essential guide to facilitation skills and facilitator training. Facilitating With Ease remains a core text for aspiring facilitators. Team leaders, members, managers and consultants can all benefit from the insightful book which manages to articulate clearly what a facilitator is, what they do and – importantly – why.
Here, we have illustrated a key section ‘Best and Worst Facilitator Practices’ in infographic form:
Good facilitator training teaches both the best and worst practices. That way, you learn what to do, but also what to avoid.
How to run an effective meeting
A good facilitator works hard to stay neutral and is careful to treat all meeting participants equally. They assess and appreciate the needs of members and know how to use a wide range of process tools.
Facilitation training encourages budding facilitators to listen intently, ensuring that they fully understand what is being said. Effective facilitators speak in simple language and create an open and trusting atmosphere that helps to always make members the centre of attention.
Furthermore, a good facilitator is both willing and able to champion ideas that they don’t personally favour. They make good notes that properly reflect what participants feel and are able to coherently summarise a session while outlining the clear next steps for action.
Contrast this with the worst practices of facilitation.
How not to run an effective meeting
A bad facilitator aims to be the centre of attention and does not listen to the thoughts, needs and concerns of members. The desire to push off on an irrelevant agenda forces the bad facilitator to lose track of key ideas. Furthermore, the poor facilitator is often willing to let one or a few people – usually those with the loudest voices – dominate a meeting. That said, they tend to let discussions ramble on without proper closure, hardly ever check how a meeting is going and are therefore oblivious about when to stop.