A Good Facilitator

Innovitro's Facilitation Techniques

Innovitro offers 3-day facilitation techniques that help anyone who wish to lead a learning session. The 3-day course cover all techniques that are effectively encourage people to share their learning and experiences with hands-on role-play practices.

Paraphasing

Paraphrasing is a fundamental listening skill. It is the foundation for many other facilitative listening skills, including mirroring, gathering, and drawing people out.

Paraphrasing has both a calming effect and a clarifying effect. It reassures the speaker that his or her ideas are worth listening to. And it provides the speaker with a chance to hear how his or her ideas are being heard by others.

Paraphrasing is especially useful on occasions when a speaker’s statements are convoluted or confusing. At such times, the paraphrase will help the speaker gauge how well his/her ideas have been understood.

In summary, paraphrasing is the tool of choice for supporting people to think out loud.

Drawing People Out

Drawing people out is a way of supporting people to take the next step in clarifying and refining their ideas. It sends the speaker the message "I'm with you; I understand you so far. Now tell me a little more."

Drawing people out is particularly useful when someone is having difficulty clarifying an idea or when someone thinks he is being clear, but the thought is confusing to the listener.

Mirroring

Mirroring captures people’s exact words. Some people need this degree of precision in order to feel that they are truly being heard. Newly-formed groups, and groups unfamiliar with using a facilitator, often benefit from the trust-building effects of mirroring.

Mirroring speeds up the tempo of a slow-moving discussion. Thus it is the tool of choice when facilitating a brainstorming process.

Gathering Ideas

To help a group build a list of ideas at a fast moving pace, you want to gather ideas, not discuss them.

Gathering is a skill that combines mirroring and paraphrasing with physical gestures. Listening skills acknowledge people's thoughts and reduce their inclination to defend their ideas. Physical gestures - waving an arm or walking around - serve as "energy boosters" that keep people feeling involved. In order to set a fast, lively pace, use mirroring more than paraphrasing. When you repeat their exact words, many participants get into the groove of expressing their ideas in short phrases – typically three to five words. These are much easier to record on flipcharts than long sentences.

Stacking

Stacking is a procedure for helping people take turns when several people want to speak at once.

Stacking lets everyone know that they are going to have their turn to speak. So instead of competing for air time, people are free to listen without distraction.

In contrast, when people don't know when or even whether their turn will come, they can't help but vie for position. This leads to various expressions of impatience and disrespect - especially interruptions.

Tracking

Tracking means keeping track of the various lines of thought that are going on simultaneously within a single discussion. For example, suppose a group is discussing a plan to hire a new employee. Two people are talking about roles and responsibilities. Two others are discussing financial implications, and another two are reviewing their experiences with the previous employee. In such cases, people need help keeping track of all that's going on, because they are focused primarily on clarifying their own ideas.

People often act as though the particular issue that interests them is the one that everyone should focus on. Tracking lets the group see that several elements of the topic are being discussed, and treats all as equally valid.

Tracking relieves the anxiety felt by someone who wonders why the group isn't responding to his/her ideas.

Encouraging

Encouraging is the art of creating an opening for people to participate, without putting any one individual on the spot.

There are times in a meeting when someone may appear to be "sitting back and letting others do all the work." This doesn't necessarily mean that they are lazy or irresponsible.

Instead, it may be that they are not feeling engaged by the discussion. With a little encouragement to participate, they often discover an aspect of the topic that holds meaning for them.

Encouraging is especially helpful during the early stage of a discussion, while members are still warming up. As people get more engaged, they don't need as much encouragement to participate.

Balancing

The direction of a discussion often follows the lead set by the first few people who speak on that topic. Using balancing, a facilitator helps a group round out its discussion by asking for other views that may be present but unexpressed.

Balancing undercuts the common myth that "silence means consent." In doing so, it provides welcome assistance to individuals who don't feel safe enough to express views that they perceive as minority positions.

Balancing not only assists individual members who need a little support at that moment; it also has strong positive effects on the norms of the group as a whole. It sends the message, "It is acceptable here for people to speak their mind, no matter what opinions they hold."

Making Space

Making space sends the quiet person a message: "If you don't wish to talk now, that's fine. But if you would like to speak, here's an opportunity."

Every group has some members who are highly verbal and other members who speak less. When a group has a fast-paced discussion style, quiet members and slower thinkers may have trouble getting a word in edgewise.

Some people habitually keep out of the limelight because they are afraid of being perceived as rude or competitive. Others might hold back when they're new to a group and unsure of what's acceptable and what's not. Still others keep their thoughts to themselves because they're convinced their ideas aren't "as good as" those of others. In all of these cases, people benefit from a facilitator who makes space for them to participate.

Intentional Silence

Intentional silence is highly underrated. It consists of a pause, usually lasting no more than a few seconds, and it is done to give the speaker that brief extra "quiet time" to discover what they want to say.

Some people need the momentary silence because they are not fully in touch with what they're thinking or feeling. Others need it because they are wrestling over whether or not to say something that might be risky. Still others need the silence to organize their thoughts into a coherent communication.

Intentional silence is also powerful when a group member's remark seems too pat, too easy. The facilitator's silent attention allows that person to reflect on what s/he just said, and express his/her thoughts in more depth.

Listening for Common Ground

Listening for common ground is a powerful intervention when group members are polarized. It validates the group’s areas of disagreement and focuses the group on their areas of agreement.

Many disputes contain elements of agreement.  For example, civil-rights activists often argue vehemently over priorities and tactics, even while they agree on broad goals. When disagreements cause the members of a group to take polarized positions, it becomes hard for people to recognize that they have anything in common.  This isolation can sometimes be overcome when the facilitator validates both the differences in the group and areas of common ground.

Apart from above techniques that are essential n facilitation, the program also offer the techniques on how to deal with difficult people when presence at the session. You will learn how to deal with domination by a highly verbal person, or people who mess around in the middle of a discussion, etc.

Next Steps...

Facilitation techniques above are covered in Innovitro's facilitation Course. To learn all those techniques, contact us....