When I explain my job to friends, family, or colleagues, they often ask, “What is a Facilitator?” “Why would I need one?”
Today seemed like a good day to answer that question. I adapted much of this explanation from my website’s Facilitation Services page, but I thought I’d expand on it in this blog article, which also appears in my newsletter.
The word facilitation is derived from the Latin word “facile,” which simply means “to make easy.”
A facilitator is, therefore, someone who makes something easy for others.
For example, when you bring a group together to accomplish a goal, we help you make sure everyone has a voice. We also design the flow so the meeting runs smoothly and you can get the right things done.
Many people think a facilitator is the same as a trainer. I disagree. A trainer typically delivers instruction or content.
A facilitator is content-neutral and may know very little about the content or expertise of a group. Facilitators focus on the process to keep people engaged so the group can achieve its desired goal.
Most of our work continues to be with teams that are now fully remote or organizations hosting virtual meetings and conferences.
Why Hire a Facilitator?
Meeting facilitation is like an insurance policy for your important meetings or conferences. You want your meeting or conference to be successful.
The facilitator is the guide who helps your participants flow through the steps so that the desired outcomes are clear, understood, and accepted by all participants. They don’t just give you a smoothly running meeting (although that is a definite benefit). Instead, the facilitator helps you get better RESULTS from your meeting.
A good facilitator will:
- Work closely with you to plan, design, and deliver an experience for your participants that meets your needs and your goals
- Make sure that all participants are crystal clear on the purpose of your session
- Help you decide the best people to invite to your session and design it so that everyone can do their best work together
- Keep people engaged and involved during the session
- Provide methods for documenting the session’s results in a way that allows you to evaluate the session’s outcomes
- Remain neutral on the issues
- Incorporate flexibility so that the conversation can go where it needs to go
You might want a facilitator if you have….
- A problem to solve, a team assigned, and no idea how to go about it
- Large project initiatives and need community input on feasibility and potential issues
- A group that is dealing with a controversial issue and needs a neutral facilitator
- An emotionally charged meeting or difficult decision or discussion that needs to move forward
- An opportunity to bring your staff together to explore big picture topics and think through how your work meets your mission
- Disparate groups or teams who need to collaborate on a high-stakes initiative
- Geographically distributed teams and want everyone to work together collaboratively
- Virtual conferences or events with multiple concurrent sessions or speakers who are not skilled presenters
- Are trying to solve a complex or sensitive problem and members of a group can’t be neutral enough to facilitate themselves
- A need to get input from a variety of stakeholders
- Meeting after meeting where you can’t remember who was supposed to do what or you constantly revisit decisions and aren’t making enough progress
We can partner on the following types of meetings and events:
- Focus Groups
- Conferences & Summits
- Large and Small-Scale Meetings
- Project Reviews and Walkthroughs
- Process Mapping & Process Improvement
- Issue Resolution
- Organizational Decision-Making
- Board Meetings
- Staff and Board Retreats
- Problem Solving & Action Planning
- Team Building and Team Development
- Planning Meetings
- Strategic Planning
- And more!
We can also work with you to transition from in-person sessions to virtual or hybrid formats. Much of our work was virtual, even pre-pandemic. Our interactive virtual design and facilitation approaches emphasize strategies that increase participant engagement and productivity. We use a variety of visual methods which keep people engaged and involved.