As someone who facilitates workshops regularly, it is a treat to watch/experience someone else’s strong facilitation.
Last month, I had the occasion to collaborate with Isabel Budke to offer Leadership Principles, a 3-part course at Vantage Point for those in the non-profit sector. Isabel facilitated the first and last session, and I did the middle one.
This was the first time I had facilitated outside of a higher education context in 15 years, and on a topic (leadership) that I had never presented on in a group.
I have noticed that many educational developers share similar facilitation approaches, so being part of a session outside of higher education and also led by someone with a different professional background gave me a few insights/reminders. These are presented below.
Extensive group sharing can work.
I tend to plan many small group activities and incorporate only limited large group sharing. Isabel did the opposite and I was surprised at how much and how easily the participants shared in the large group. I thought their sharing would dwindle quickly, but it didn’t.
Inspirational quotes don’t need to be avoided.
In my facilitation (including conferences, workshops), I don’t think I’ve ever used a motivational quote. My assumption has been that an academic audience would not take me seriously and/or would be turned off by these. In the Vantage Point sessions, Isabel used a few inspirational quotes and I noticed that the participants enjoyed and reflected on these out-loud and without prompting.
Trust, and plan for fewer activities
I am prone to worry and plan all my facilitation sessions extensively. Session #2 (the one I facilitated) was no exception. Isabel, too, plans extensively. The difference is that I normally incorporate many activities (for fear that there won’t be ‘enough’) and, in her sessions, Isabel selected only a few activities and allowed more time. It felt spacious, productive, and more relaxing.
Be warm and less reserved
I consider myself a warm person and I like to connect individually with others. When I facilitate in a group, I think, however, that some of my warmth may be “lost” because I get concerned with The Plan (which tends to be overly ambitious when I’m facilitating something for the first time). I enjoyed seeing how Isabel exuded warmth throughout.
What have you learned lately by watching others facilitated? Let me know in the comments–I’d love to hear from you.
(This photo was taken on Day 3, during an activity that Isabel facilitated)