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Top Facilitation Tips - How to Be a Better Facilitator

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Written by Andy Trainer– Mon 13 Aug 2012

Shaun is one of our lead Management trainers. He regularly runs our Management SkillsLeadership and Train the Trainer courses. In this blog post he draws on content from his Facilitation Skills course. If you want to know more about this topic then why not give us a call on 01273 622272? We will do our best to find you the most suitable course. 

The word "facilitate" doesn't mean to lead, control, or direct. Facilitate simply means to make easier. In a practical sense, the job of a facilitator is to help create a space that is comfortable and productive for a group of people. Facilitating is like adding oil to a car. Facilitators make meetings, discussions, and events of all sorts run smoothly.

Here are some tips on facilitating:

Setting the Tone

The opening stage of any session is a good time for setting the tone and establishing group norms. Facilitators are carefully watched for signs of behaviour that is appropriate or inappropriate, so lead by example and use this time to introduce and model appropriate types of behaviour.

Stay Neutral

You should avoid sharing a strong opinion; as a facilitator, if you want to say something, call on yourself in turn, but make sure you don't use your role to dominate the discussion. Furthermore, you should not allow people with race, class, gender, or other subtle or non-subtle privilege to dominate a meeting. As a facilitator, you should encourage everyone to participate while moving the meeting along to meet time and agenda limits.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Understanding of different personality types and communication styles can be very helpful, work in an inclusive manner with every individual, positively reinforcing their personal input. It is a good idea to provide a wide variety of group-work methods, stressing relevant examples and encouraging the use of discussion.

If you are facilitating training sessions it can be useful to understand the barriers to learning that may be affecting your group so that you can improve the session for everyone's benefit.

Body Language

Make sure that when you are talking or listening to someone that your body language shows that you are actively paying attention. You should be making eye contact and give other signs like smiles and nods to demonstrate that you are focused on what they have to say. Body language is especially important in high stress situations. Part of the way you take control of the situation is through your body language and physical presence. Be firm, speak directly to them and address them by name giving specific instructions for what they are to do.


It is imperative that you are honest with the group at all times. There should be no hidden agendas.

Success and Failure are Not Absolutes

The idea that not achieving your stated goal is still success. If you aim to get from A-Z and get to M you have still travelled a great distance. If someone is having difficulty, you may need to help them see this.

‘I’ statements

Encourage people to own their statements rather than placing the responsibility for them on others by saying "I feel __________ or I think _________."

Respect for others

This means that we have to create an environment where everyone is respected. You don't have to agree with the person, but you need to respect them.

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