Are you a facilitator? If you’re a trainer, speaker, or a leader, you might readily answer “yes” to that question. But what if you’re running a project, a small group meeting, or even leading a conference call?
Anytime you are interacting with others . . . you’re also a facilitator!
Read on for 5 quick tips for being a star facilitator – they can be easily adapted for virtually any learning or workplace scenario.
1. Memorize your introduction. Participants will begin making judgments about your value and the value of the interaction as a whole within the first 2-3 minutes. Your goal is to make maximum positive impact. It can take several minutes for you to feel “warmed up” with your audience or team. One way to reduce the warm-up period and inspire confidence is to memorize your introduction. This introduction can include some information about you, class objectives, and possibly an icebreaker activity. In a meeting situation, your introduction might simply be your agenda.
2. Ditch the deck (or limit it) for in-person situations. Relying too heavily on a slide deck and reading straight from it causes two issues. First, you aren’t making eye contact with those in the room, which reduces rapport and connection. Second, you reduce your credibility because your audience may perceive you as unprepared or not knowledgeable with the content.
3. Leverage your audience. Your participants or audience brings a wealth of personal and professional experience, so acknowledge and take advantage of it! You might ask them to share their stories on a topic or answer another participant’s question. In a formal learning situation, you might be working through activities; ask how they would apply the learning in their everyday life. By doing this, you’re allowing multiple learning opportunities.
4. Be present. It’s your responsibility to be present and focused throughout your time together. Your audience will sense when you’re truly listening and engaged in the content. Easy ways to do this include periodically moving around the room, being attentive to time, acknowledging all contributions, and asking thoughtful follow up questions. Offer sufficient breaks so that everyone, including you, can regroup.
5. Take the pressure off. Don’t try to be an expert all the time. Even if you’re an expert on the topic, think of yourself as a guide taking others on a journey. You provide direction, but you also encourage them to take their own path from time to time. Will there be times when you don’t know the answer to a question? Absolutely. In those cases ask the group to respond with their ideas, again leveraging your audience and creating a positive experience.
Be sure to try one of these quick tips in your next meeting or formal learning experience.
Also published on Medium.
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