Last time I promised to share with you my experience with facilitating face-to-face events. As a matter of fact, we actually use some of the facilitation techniques in the daily life, either at work when conducting meetings, participating in discussions, or in personal life when communicating with the family, partner and friends, raising kids or simply overcoming everyday drawbacks. We listen, and we are empathetic, patient and enthusiastic to see good results.
Source: Sue Fody, GOT IT! Learning Designs, Graphic Recording of the Instructional Design Process
As a facilitator you give the direction to the audience and pave the way for discussions. If you are interested in learning more about the qualities of a facilitator, Brad Ty Nunnally’s article Why the Best Designers are also Facilitators is an essential read.
Recently I facilitated a high-level regional event in Montenegro on Leading Change in Modern Tax Administration, and I am ready to uncover what worked well during this amazing learning journey with finance officials.
- Combine complexity & fun
When choosing an engaging format, in order to have your audience follow comprehensive lectures and presentations, be smart to think of an informal part of knowledge sharing, socializing moments, quizzes, icebreakers, and warm-up games.
It’s worth taking the time at the beginning to set the tone for the event and get everyone thinking as a team in sync. Why not share ideas about performance measurement in revenue administrations and key performance indicators over a coffee and croissants?
- Brainstorm the triangle: what do you expect, how you will contribute and what are you taking on board?
Make a connection between the expectations of participants, what they have brought along and the impressions and action points they are taking away. This will help create a clear structure for the event and define the deliverables.
- Let all attendees have a chance to articulate their thoughts
Especially if the list of participants entails 40 officials, you may blend a panel session or a round table with lectures. Small break-out sessions with a specific assignment are ideal for opening up, connecting and sharing at group level.
- Go along with the group dynamics
Feel the group energy, listen to the audience and decide whether a break is needed, another energizing game should follow, or the group interaction progresses so well that a session is extended. Groups where people get along, feel the desire to contribute to team work, and are capable of coordinating their efforts may have high performance levels.
- Use visuals
Promote scribing on flip charts that are hung on the walls. Encourage the speakers to present by using images rather than slides overburdened with text. Invest in digital storytelling by preparing a multimedia presentation that combines a variety of the event highlights. Media may include any combination of the following: text, images, video, audio, social media posts, or interactive elements (like maps).
- Ask for feedback & have a plan B
Be in touch with your audience and get ready for changes and plans to improve engagement, communication and collaboration. If you are running a longer event, ask the audience for feedback what didn’t work well and find a way to fix the weak points. Flexibility matters and we all know how to appreciate it.
- Set the music
Music enhances the learning process. Use YouTube to play some good music before and after a session or during the breaks. For example, as an intro before giving a floor to a new speaker, you can find nice melodies from the country he/she comes from.
- Practice & learn from others
You have access to endless online reading and video resources to improve your facilitation skills. Ask your colleagues how they do it. Someone wise once said, “Sharing knowledge can seem like a burden to some, but on the contrary, it is a reflection of teamwork and leadership.”
- Enjoy & have fun
Naturally, demonstrate how passionate you are about your job and keep on spreading good positive vibes around you.
Tell us about your experience with facilitating an event, either in your professional or private life. Please write your comment in the box below.
- UX Magazine, Why the Best Designers are also Facilitators