The word facilitation comes from the Latin ‘facile’ meaning “to make easy”. So facilitation is to help make group work easy.
Facilitators help a group to get where it needs to go, whether the focus of a gathering is information sharing, discussion, generating creative options, making decisions, team building or planning for action.
Facilitation is a leadership skill ‘designed to help make groups perform more effectively by soliciting the leadership skills and potential of all members’.
Here are some tips and tricks for facilitation, to help you get the most out of your next meeting.
Values and Principles
Facilitation is underpinned by certain values and principles:
- Participatory democracy: people have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them
- Personal responsibility
- The value of each individual’s contribution
- Respect for diversity
And it works best when these values are also shared by the group.
Facilitators should be guided by some basic ethical practices including:
- Seeking the group’s permission to facilitate
- Concentrating personal energy on the meeting rather than the issues
- Not controlling the group
- Being transparent about your role
- Encouraging the group to take responsibility
- Modelling and encouraging respectful and productive communication
- Equalising participation and ensuring participants hear each other
- Keeping the group on the subject, focusing and avoiding tangents
- Responding to what the group wants while staying focused on the meeting purpose
- Clarifying, interpreting and summarising
- Pacemaking, moving through the agenda and keeping to time (with some flexibility)
- Encouraging creativity and a wide range of ideas
- Supporting the group to narrow the options down and come to decisions
- Defining or calling for proposals to move things forward
- Encouraging evaluation, helping the group learn so future meetings go well
Some Facilitation Tools
- Rounds – go around the group and have everyone speak
- Popcorn – fast paced calling out of ideas or examples
- Brainstorm – gathering all the ideas without censorship or judgement
- Strawpoll – voting to indicate support for different options, to narrow a list down
- Paired sharing – give people time to clarify their thinking outside the large group
- Small group break-outs – for practical work or focused discussion