How to Establish Immediate Credibility as a Group Facilitator

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For most higher level management folks, how to build instant credibility with groups is part of the rights of passage in climbing the corporate leadership ladder. But for those who are new to facilitating groups or those who still feel a bit insecure leading groups, the following article will help you become more at ease and more effective when acting as a group facilitator.

What is a Facilitator?

The dictionary definition of a facilitator: a person responsible for leading or coordinating the work of a group, as one who leads a group discussion.

It sounds so simple but to be an effective facilitator is not just standing in front of a group. It requires some organization, planning and proper execution to get the best results from a group. Indeed, brainstorming ideas successfully is perhaps the main adaptive ability for corporate survival and evolution. Facilitating properly is so important that MetaOps™ offers a dedicated course and webinar to the art of facilitating.

First off, it is important that the facilitator immediately “earn the right” to be the group leader. So, the following are 7 steps will help set you up quickly and effectively.

  1. Scan the group briefly to establish eye contact and ensure everyone is paying attention. Body language is important-shoulders back, hands at your sides and with a semi-serious, smiling face.
  2. Make a statement that engages the audience in the subject at hand. “Did you know that….and this is really important to you because (tie in the discussion with some WiiFM[1] so they know you are there to help them.
  3. As a few questions that involve audience participation. “ Don, what do you think about …..”
  4. Ask permission to talk about yourself: “Since we will be spending a lot of time together, is it OK if I tell you a little bit more about me?” Wait for agreement, and then follow with, “Thank you.”
  1. Establish credibility to be the facilitator – time you have spent doing this kind of work, statistics and references of past successes, educational background, how you helped a team make things happen, supported by facts.  Perhaps tell a short personal story of how what is being addressed ties back to your experience or those in the group.
  2. State clearly what your role is and ask, “Does that make sense?” Is everybody OK with that? (Do that holding up your hand and thereby asking them to do so as well to confirm).
  3. Make a pledge – something like, “Thank you. I promise you I will do everything in my power to help you be successful in this accomplishing our goals together.”

If done with energy and purpose, this opening should not take more than 5 minutes.

[1] “what’s in it for ME”


Additional Reading

Top Facilitator Tips: Positioning your body when handling questions and discussion with your group

Top Facilitator Tip: Celebrate wins – for Individuals and for Groups


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