My facilitation training is based around the Facilitating with Confidence programme.
Creative facilitation is about helping meetings to be more satisfying and productive. In this training, I follow a few core principles.
Holding the space
As a facilitator, it's good to be able to hold open the space in a way that works for the diverse people in the room. In my experience, this often means managing one's one anxiety about getting rapid results and being willing to sit with uncertainty. It's about being economical with interventions, resisting the temptation to push too hard and not settling into a single (often too fast) pace. To hold the space, we need to be able to hold ourselves - to manage ourselves with awareness and sensitivity.
Embrace the unexpected
Many facilitators experience anxiety before running a session, and spend a lot of time worrying about what might go wrong. Then in reality, something else happens in the meeting, something not planned for.
Being open to the unexpected, and resourceful in responding, is a key skill for facilitators. Some of our best work comes when we have to drop our original plans and respond in the moment to what happens before us. Authentic facilitation is a great way to increase the ability to improvise.
Thank you for a great day, I feel re-inspired about facilitation and about what interesting people you meet when you venture outside your usual professional circles - Helen Weavers, Planner
A researcher once studied the work of ten highly-regarded facilitators to see what they had in common. He was surprised to find that he could find no common approach. He then focussed on one facilitator and sought what was common to the various projects he worked on. Again, he found no common strand. In the end, he realised that the only common factor among these people was… flexibility – an ability to try different approaches in different contexts, responding imaginatively to what was put before them.
This flexibility is, of course, closely connected to a willingness to be surprised – to recognise the unexpected and adapt to it effectively rather than ignoring it or over-reacting to it.
A real confidence booster. There was a good balance of practical exercises, discussion and opportunities to reflect. I left the workshop inspired and re-energised. I now feel more flexible as a facilitator both in group and one-to-one settings, with positive (and surprising!) results. Donna Trenholm, British Heart Foundation
Among the key aspects of facilitation covered are:
Awareness: paying attention to your own responses and to the responses of others
Presence: really showing people that you are listening to them and their concerns
Flexibility: improving our skills to adapt in-the-moment to the emerging needs of the group
Acknowledgement and affirmation: bringing a “Yes, and” approach instead of a “No, but”
The paradox of structure and freedom: how to get the best of both worlds; when to intervene and when to let the group run
Creating goodwill: how to support the human goodwill that is at the heart of great teams
Tailored Workshops are designed to meet the particular needs of your organisation. They can be offered in packages from half-a-day to a week.
They can work both for those who are new to facilitation work, and for those with considerable experience and wishing to further strengthen their skills.
Generally, the format will combine different ways of working: some individual processing, some work in small pairs and teams, and some working with the whole group. This is designed to accommodate different learning styles and preferences.
As well as creating open space for participants to discuss issues of personal concern to them, the workshop will include some exercises designed to emphasise the value of flexibility and spontaneity in working with people. This aspect of the work is based on my own experience with improvisational theatre – it is highly engaging and energising and helps to ground ideas in experience, rather than theory.