Tips for facilitators – III

Maybe you are an experienced trainer or facilitator or maybe you are completely new to the topic. I know it can be a difficult and for some even daunting task to facilitate a workshop or session, but there are ways to make it easier. In this series, I want to share some of my tips for facilitating.

One of my favorites is to use silence. That one can make a lot of things easier, but it was something I also had to learn and get used to. Normally, we try to avoid silence. Especially if we don’t know the other person or the group. It is an awkward feeling when nobody is saying anything, and we are tempted to say something. However, you can use this to your advantage. Try to hold the silence once you asked a question and there is not someone directly jumping to answer the question. They also feel that awkward feeling and they will be eager to fill it. Sometimes, this is the perfect way to draw people out and get astonishing and open answers. Also, another tip. When you get the feeling that it is getting awkward, the participants might not be there yet. As a facilitator, things seem to go faster. At least how we perceive time. So, once you get this feeling, wait for some more time.

Another tip that I copied from someone else is to start a session with 2 minutes of silence. It doesn’t need to be a meditation kind of silence, just being silent. You can brief your participants that this should help to relax, focus why we are here, and what we want to get out of the session. Therefore, it is a nice method to help your participants being present. There are so many things going on in our heads, so they will be grateful that you give them the chance to settle down and start the session with some more energy.

Oh, and speaking of copying. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel all the time. Copy from other trainers what you like. If you have never facilitated a session before, I guess you have still been a participant in many sessions yourself. Think about what the facilitator did well and what he/she did not so well and then just pick what you like and incorporate into your training.


Take care, Stephan

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