10 Tips for Effective Facilitation
Effective facilitation requires the observation of organization, collaboration, communication and more. We have taken a list of Ten Tips for Effective Online Facilitation provided by EdTech Leaders Online and elaborated upon it. Check out these tips for effective facilitation below.
- Make everyone feel welcome and heard; create a comfortable environment
As an effective facilitator, it is your duty to provide a safe environment for participants. Participants should feel comfortable speaking their truth without fear of being judged. A comfortable environment starts with you. Make sure you address the group with a friendly and personal tone. Introduce yourself in a unique way. This could be as simple as quickly sharing a favorite childhood memory or three things that make you smile and three things that make you think. Then allow the group to do the same. Groups that feel more connected personally are more likely to feel comfortable expressing themselves publicly. The goal is to allow the conversation to become an organized discussion among all group members, where ideas are merged together and strengthened, and not simply individual answers being shared.
- Establish clear goals and expectations at the outset
The discussion should move freely, however, goals and boundaries must be set in order to prove success. If the goals and expectations are not clear then you may end up sharing childhood memories for half of the meeting. Make sure the participants know exactly what is expected of them individually as well as the group as a whole. Keep the goals visible in the form of a slideshow or another online visual.
- Provide behind-the-scenes support via email or another platform
The group will most likely have questions. Effective facilitation involves doing your best to answer these questions and make it easier for the group to focus on collective goals without being hung up on small things. Keep up with your emails and consider setting an automatic response to ensure the participant you received their email and will get back to them within a certain amount of time. Stay committed to consistent online support.
- Foster communication between participants
It often happens that participants end up speaking solely to the facilitator while the others listen. However, when practicing effective facilitation, one must encourage participants to speak directly with each other. This is where all of the magic happens. The group can then share ideas and learn to communicate effectively while incorporating the strengths of all members.
Effective Facilitators Set the Stage for the Discussion
- Model participation and discussion techniques for participants
In order for facilitation to be truly effective, you must be a model for the group. You are not only observing, processing, and facilitating. You are also showcasing effective modes of communication and collaboration. The best way to do this is to voice your thought process aloud. This will make it more likely that the group adopt your way of communication because they are able to understand the benefits from the inside out.
- Keep the discussion alive; prevent stagnancy
A key part of effective facilitation is keeping the conversation alive and flowing. You don’t have to provide lengthy feedback for every response in the group. However, it is important that you acknowledge responses and consider posting a question to encourage participants to elaborate on the idea. In order to keep your group active, you have to be a sort of catalyst for thought. Try to be as active as you can without drowning out the ideas of others. Imagine yourself as prodding the ideas of others and offering encouragement for expansion as well as connecting the comments and ideas of other participants.
This includes always asking permission when you want to explore further a comment from a participant.
Also do not be concerned if you have a large group with little to no opportunity for people people to speak their thoughts with their voices. It is an encouraging truth that less than 15% of people are auditory processors and between 60 – 70% are visual, so they like to see and write in the chat box anyway!
- Keep the discussion on-topic
This goes along with having clear goals and expectations. The prompt must be clear. It is okay for participants to veer off track for a couple of sentences, for the sake of team building and substance. However, off topic discussions should be continued through private messages or a separate social thread. Although participants should be encouraged to express themselves, the prompt must not become lost in discussion.
- Guide participants through the curriculum
Make sure that you serve as a live calendar for the participants. Send out reminders for due dates and upcoming assignments. Foreshadow upcoming lessons and units through email or your platform of choice. You can consider sending a thought provoking introduction along with a couple of questions the weekend before the topic begins.
- Make sure the audience and the content are in sync
Facilitation strategies should be flexible and mold to the needs of the participants. Closely monitor your plan and the responses of the group. Ask for feedback in a separate forum so you can adjust accordingly. If you notice that the group is not receptive to the information then it is time to change your facilitation strategy.
- Bring closure to each topic before moving on
It is helpful for effective facilitation is you provide a moment at the end of topics to address any lingering questions. It is also wise to take some time to connect previous lessons to the following lesson and set the stage for future discussions. This gives participants a chance to stay in union and move as a group to the next unit.
Very best wishes for your every success,
P.S. I share an exclusive email newsletter as well as e-learning courses and cutting edge virtual training programs to help virtual entrepreneurs and dedicated team leaders with finding or expanding your niche within the limitless possibilities of your ever growing fields.. Sign up now and get this no cost, Audio Course, Commit to Excellence in Your Business or Job!