TOP Facilitator Tips

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As effective communications is an acquired skill-particularly when it comes to facilitating groups-let’s go over some suggestions to help keep the audience involved and productive.

Engaging with the audience

  1. Use questions to involve the team. Seek out those silent observers lurking in the back of the room and ask for their input. Don’t let just a few participants dominate the conversation. You are a facilitator and not a lecturer.
  2. Use ‘Suggestology’

-Put up some “fill-in-the blanks” sentences on the white board.

-Ask for the most appropriate word to describe the situation being presented. For example: “What’s the best word to use to describe what we can do here? The word starts with a C.” This tests for a deep understanding of the problem and solution and can be represented by just one word.

-Then have someone else explain how the word applies.

  1. Raise your “persona” to match the size of the audience. If there are many people in the group, be more expansive and dynamic in action and words. For smaller groups, you can be more laid back and informal.
  2. Keep changing your voice and tone. It helps the attention span of the audience. It’s OK to shout and whisper.
  3. Use a pause when it’s not expected. Silence can be deafening. Changing pace and tone are effective ways to keep the attention of the audience.
  4. After asking questions, don’t be afraid to wait for a response. The longer you wait, the more the tension builds for someone to respond.
  5. Tell stories. The more personal and emotional the better.
  6. Add emotion when appropriate.
  7. Direct the session with power and empathy. Keep things moving along.

Handling questions

  • Move away from the person asking the question.
  • Acknowledge the person by name.
  • Repeat the question or have them repeat the question or you write it on the whiteboard.
  • Answer the question or deflect it if appropriate. (“We will be discussing this topic later. So let’s hold it until then.”
  • Verify the answer. “Did that answer your question?’
  • Thank them for the question to reinforce participation.


Additional Reading

GenderSpeak: Men, Women and Communication at Work

Visualization Means Better Communications


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