There are many definitions for presentations. When you present there are also many different modes you can focus on. Are you a facilitator or an educator? The mode of facilitator is often misused in the corporate world and interchanged with words like trainer and educator. Facilitation is an exceptional skill, once you learn this skill you can boost your productivity and it can make you a better presenter.
A true facilitator is all about creating an environment where people feel safe and able to share their ideas freely. I believe the facilitator’s role is to act as a conduit. The first process a facilitator will undertake is to create operating agreements with their audience. It is the facilitator’s role to remove any blockages and conflicts within the group. They allow the thought processes of the group to be processed and expressed. They are responsible for establishing an environment that does that.
If this is a mode you are interested in developing yourself, the main proficiencies for this mode include:
Removing personal agenda – a facilitator’s role is to set the agenda with the group, not be running their own personal agenda. It is more powerful to seek to fill the agenda of the team and you will be more engaging to your audience.
Creating trust – this can be established in many ways for a presenter. It can occur before the presentation with communications circulated to the attendees, it can be built into the introduction for the facilitator and it can also be established when the agenda is set.
Respecting diversity – valuing each person’s input and recognising the variety of expertise and experience within the audience is the sign of a great facilitator.
Having active listening skills – one of the most important skill for any facilitator is the need to be able to listen and process what the audience is saying … and quickly. Listening intently will assist this.
A good facilitator may take several hours or days to create an environment where all the work may finally come together in the last hour. Don’t be fooled … some may think a facilitator comes into a presentation or meeting unprepared but that is not the case. An exceptional facilitator spends time preparing by taking a comprehensive brief from the client, researching the group/audience they will be working with and determining the questions that need to be asked to facilitate the best environment.
A quick note: Many organisations choose to bring in external facilitators to work with teams to achieve objectives. An external facilitator is neutral, doesn’t participate in office politics and is not influenced by the management hierarchy. If you team is grid locked or not co-operating, an external facilitator can be a great solution for you.
In a true facilitation style you may not even have the first question for your audience! Every discussion is a question i.e. does this feel right for you? Every facilitator should have an arsenal of great questions in their tool kit. Those questions include:
How is that working for you?
How do you feel about that?
I’m having trouble understanding that?
Does anyone want to add anything to that?
What’s that a part of?
If you knew the answer to that, what would it be?
In your experience, is that correct?
Does that ring true for you?
What do you need to get more out of this?
So what else is coming up?
If you had more time, what would the answer be?
If you knew the answer, what would it look like?
What is the biggest problem with the world?
What is the biggest issue with the world?
Facilitators are able to hold the space in tension to understand. They don’t try to fill the silence. They are able to capture conversations, check people’s understanding and expose all opinions. Learning questioning techniques will increase your mastery of this mode.
Here is a Facilitation checklist for you to help build your skills in this mode ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have an arsenal of questions?
Are you an active listener?
Can you “hold the space” in the tension?
Can you continually ask questions rather than try and find solutions to the discussions?
When you master this facilitation mode you will become a more powerful and engaging presenter. This skill can assist you when you have a tough audience, when you need to change the environment and when you are helping a client find a solution.