9 Practical Tips for a Successful Facilitation
A successful facilitation can be traced back to the little things most of us rarely think about. Facilitators understandably get so focused on the conversation that they forget about the practical resources and logistics that influence the facilitation experience. Before your next facilitation, we challenge you to think about and practice these things:
While perceived as outdated, flipcharts can be extremely beneficial for a successful facilitation. Flipcharts require action, visually capture information, and give participants a way to view progress and main points for processing purposes. It's so simple.
2. Write a Hint
Using a pencil, softly etch any notes or hints that will help the facilitation on your flipchart or on a piece of paper. This can help you from losing track of your progress and give you any reference points to look back at.
3. Flipchart Preparation
If needing to have information or charts ready before a session, get them ready. Take the time to write or draw in preparation of discussion. While preparing, be certain you have no spelling or grammatical errors. This may make you seem lazy or unprepared.
4. Avoid Long Sentences
Flipcharts shouldn't be novels. When taking notes, keep it simple, clear, and compelling. Long sentences also will generally get sloppy and distract participants from the actual meat of the conversation.
5. Handwrite in Print
Chances are that you are not in the room to sign your autograph; be sure to write legibly and in print.
When standing in a room and writing, black and blue markers should be used. When facilitators use red or green or other bright colors, it can impact those who may be color blind or have sensitive eyesight.
We recommend a 2" to 2.5" margin in best when writing and providing appealing copy.
8. Love the people, not the board
When ideas and comments are being thrown around the table, it can be easy to turn your back and fall behind because you were writing things on the board. Keep in mind that you are speaking to the participants and not the board. Don't turn your back to the team and begin talking. When writing bullet points, write from the side.
9. 7x7 Rule
When writing on a piece of flip chart paper, remember the 7x7 Rule; 7 words per line x 7 lines per sheet.
BONUS: PowerPoint & Technology
Test is Best
Nothing is more uncomfortable or distracting than participants watching you play IT in the middle of a facilitation to get PowerPoint to work. Be sure to test your video, audio and functionality of slides before you get into discussion. Technology isn't always perfect, but a little preparation can go a long way.
Have a Clicker
Clickers are beneficial because they give the space to roam and move with a purpose. This will also allow you to go to the back of the room and get the focus off of you and onto the content or other participants.
We can't emphasize it enough; while conversations require active listening and in the moment thinking, preparation gives you the space and ability to be in the moment during the facilitation. When you know what slides are coming up and how much a PowerPoint or agenda you have left, you can feel more at ease with the discussion.
Facilitation is tough. However, these tips are some of the few basic facilitation skills you need to be at your best and get the best out of your team.