What is facilitation?
The job of a Facilitator is multifaceted. It could be to help participants come up with some aims and goals for their organisation, some action plans for what they want to do to achieve those goals, or perhaps working out what the problems are that are holding up progress in the work place. It could be many more things too, which is perhaps why the concept of facilitation is so intangeable. The content and end results of facilitated sessions are really quite variable, but the central idea that the facilitator provides the means and the methods for information to be generated, collected, organised, discussed or shared remains the same.
I like to think that my sessions are as inclusive as possible and so provide all the participants a chance to contribute their ideas. Not everyone likes talking in front of a big group which is one of the reasons a traditional meeting format doesn’t always generate the ideas it needs. But few people mind being asked to write things down on a post-it note or writing or drawing something on a flip chart paper in amongst a load of other ideas.
Even when people think they have nothing to contribute, the energy and the activities generated by a facilitated session usually mean that everyone has something to add. By actively encouraging good participation using specially selected activities the Facilitator can help get the most out of a group gathering. A good Facilitator will be able to work out the group dynamics and create more opportunities for fruitful discussion and useful contributions from everyone.
My work provides structure and guides people through the process of working in a group. I plan the session and use different tools and techniques so that the participants can come up with the content. It differs from training in that the role of the facilitator is not to provide new information, but to act as a catalyst to help the group draw on what they already know, in an effective way.