Developing your own style of facilitation
This article looks more closely at YOU. That’s right! It’s you I’m talking about.
We are going to start thinking about how you develop your own facilitation style. One that you feel comfortable delivering and one where you are confident in being your authentic self.
Being confident makes a significant difference to your success as a facilitator. Not everyone has natural confidence especially when faced with an expectant room of delegates, so here we share with you some practical ways you can help to increase your confidence when it comes to facilitating a group of people.
Confidence is a very precious commodity and it can visit us and leave us without knowing and at the most inopportune moments. So how can we mitigate against those losses of confidence by understanding better what makes us feel ‘in flow’ and ‘on our game’?
Confidence comes from a combination of experience and understanding. It is very hard to stand in front of an established group of people, often subject matter experts themselves, if you don’t have the necessary understanding of your subject.
Any inkling that you are ‘busking’ it or you haven’t done the preparation will undermine your integrity as a facilitator. You may not have the experience of course which is a hurdle to overcome but by ensuring you are well prepared, you are at least halfway to ensuring that you can speak with authority.
You can only gain experience by doing and so making sure you take every opportunity to test out your skills will incrementally improve the experience part of the equation until you are equal with knowledge and experience and are now operating more confidently.
How to build your confidence
As a facilitator you are not expected to be, nor should pretend to be, the subject matter expert.
A level of content and audience understanding though will help to give you some context for what you are doing and why. By asking informed questions, provoking interesting discussion and gently keeping the session on track and on message will allow you to keep the session under control helping you to build rapport more effectively with the audience.
Take time before the session to research and prepare which will build this understanding.
Walk around the space you’ll be working in. Be familiar with it.
Test your voice in the space, do you need a microphone?
Check the technology. Each room is different. Leave time to ensure your laptop works, you have the correct leads and your slides can be seen
If you need sound, make sure you have back up speakers if the on site av lets you down
Make sure all those technical gremlins are tucked away and you have tested the tech, the slides and all support materials.
NEVER turn up on the day and it be the first time you have said the words you have prepared. In your head you sounded great right? And of course, there are those who do think they have the ability to wing it, but we strongly recommend you don’t follow this route.
Practise your key points. Say them out loud. In the office, meeting room, your kitchen! It doesn’t matter where, just put the words out there. You might find it useful to record yourself on your phone. Listen back and really hear yourself. What tone works best? Which words need more impact? This preparation work is crucial to your success and confidence.
Your inner voice
Look out for this little devil. Your own internal monologue can undermine yourself if you let the doubts creep in. You can have done all the prep brilliantly, but then a voice inside your head starts to freak out! Alan advises to remind yourself that nervous symptoms are the same as excited. Telling yourself you are excited can fool yourself into forgetting the nerves, which, by the way, are totally natural to have. If you’re not a little bit nervous then perhaps you might be approaching it all a little too casually.
Reading the room
Last week we advised you not to try and be someone you’re not. Just because you saw a facilitator make loads of jokes, does not mean you should do the same. Equally if you know yourself to be a more serious type, you might like to find some light-hearted moments throughout the day. This is where a very big part of your skill as a facilitator has to come into play. You should always be on the lookout for what is happening in the room. Is your style appropriate for the group that you have?
- Are people engaged?
- Do these people need a break?
- Is somebody being very quiet?
- Is somebody dominating all the conversation?
- Does it need another voice in the room?
- Do you need to change the state or atmosphere within the room?
You will need to keep your eyes and ears open throughout your session to ensure all of the above are being monitored. Keep your radar open at all times and dial up your own levels of EQ. The role of the facilitator is to keep the group focused. Allowing them to voice their opinions without going completely off piste. The focus must be on the group! Not you.
Ensuring that you have prepared well and made sure the content, approach and tone of the session all match will increase your levels of confidence and will go a long way to running a successful session.
And one last piece of advice…give yourself the odd day off. All that nervous energy and ensuring you’re keeping everyone engaged is a long old day. You’ll sleep well if you’ve done a good job.
Do you want some exercises to help in your facilitation efforts? Download exercise instructions here: