Facilitator or Inhibitor?

Facilitator or Inhibitor?

Don’t Facilitate when You Don’t Know How!

Many share the lock down experience of online webinars of variable quality. The frustration when the facilitator occupies too much of the time, speaks about themselves too much or is prone to reaction rather than using what had been said to progress discussion for participants.

The unknown in what might otherwise be a great topic or the opportunity to listen to a great speaker or panel is the Facilitator and their skills. Online webinars have also exposed misuse of the ‘power of position’ when those who lack facilitation skills are appointed to facilitate.

Effective Facilitators

A Facilitator needs the skills to engage and meet the needs of a broader audience. Inappropriate appointment of a facilitator risks  devaluing a learning opportunity or boring an audience senseless.

Effective Facilitators do not allow their ego to mislead them into believing that they are the reason why people chose to participate or that they are the focus of discussion or that they are a key stakeholder.

An effective Facilitator assist others to make progress through insight to action. An ineffective facilitator gets in the way and undermines participants value by discussion centered on them rather than facilitating a discussion between participants or between the audience and the expert speaker(s).

External Audience

When the audience is external, decide whether you need a facilitator or a chairperson.

A manager or coordinator may be an obvious chairperson for an internal meeting, but the ‘power of position’ is less persuasive with an external audience. A senior role or an impressive title does not guarantee facilitation skills or the ability to be an effective facilitator.

Ineffective Facilitation

In a facilitated meeting, a lawyer deemed that the participants role was to listen passively. Wasting time seeking to impress participants simply demonstrated his lack of facilitation skills. He occupied so much time that the promised Q & A was limited. Engaging participants was of little interest to him.

A female ‘media personality’, in the role of facilitator, ignored the diverse panel of four during Q & A to focus solely on the male panel members. The facilitator was blind to what was obvious to participants whose value was undermined as a direct result.

A well credentialed male academic, appointed as Facilitator because of the power of his position, showed scant regard for the external audience by ‘hogging  the floor’ despite the excellent guest speaker who was highly skilled at engaging with her audience when given the opportunity to do so.

Choosing A Facilitator

Confirm a person’s facilitation skills before appointment. Avoid those with inflates egos and whose sense of self-importance brings with it their uncontrolled desire to impress others. They may be suitable on a panel, but will they make progress possible or disengage participants?

Facilitation skills are rare when a person’s modus operandi is talking ‘at’ rather than ‘with’ participants. When someone’s ego is disproportionated to their empathy and communication skills, facilitation is not for them.

Facilitation skills do not come as part of a formal university qualification. Lecturing or court opportunities may be more relevant for those whose ‘claim to fame’ is being the expert expressing with ‘off the cuff’ opinions. 

Experience shows that being a lawyer, a media personality, or an academic etc. does not guarantee effective facilitation skills. For the sake of participants everywhere, ‘subject experts’ and ‘lecturers should not seek and best decline facilitation requests.

Don’t Facilitate if You Don’t Know How 

Don’t Start a Podcast is valuable advice from those made to suffer amateur podcasters questionable skills, qualifications, knowledge, or experience.

Don’t Facilitate if You Don’t Know How is equally applicable to those who fail to understand that the role of a Facilitator is to:

  • engage participants to find solutions from within

  • assist participants to make progress through insight to action.

  • feature speakers who participants have chosen to learn from

Send this article to those who demonstrate their lack of facilitation skills and to those who think, despite their facilitation role, that they are ‘the show’. Egoists and the self-important are unlikely to get the message. Even if one does, that is one more meeting where participants will get a better return from a meeting that matters.

Facilitated Solutions provide skilled facilitators who understand their role is to make progress possible by facilitating insight to action!

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