Workshop Facilitation Skills – Getting the Process Right
Workshop facilitation skills are needed to add essential process steps to the content of meetings and workshops. Help your teams gain the most from their knowledge and skills, and to achieve agreed outcomes, by developing your facilitation skills.
This article is part of our short series on structured facilitation approaches. It’s based on the idea that structured facilitation can be categorised into three strands relating to content, process and skills:
Content of Team Facilitation – what is the purpose of the team and the facilitation approach;
Process for Structured Workshops – the structure and steps used to facilitate the meeting;
Process skills needed for Workshop Facilitation – the skills needed/used to facilitate the process of a structured workshop.
In this article we will concentrate on the third of these: process skills for effective workshop facilitation.
Workshop Facilitation Skills: Focus
One way to think about workshop facilitation skills is to consider three broad areas: focus skills; inter-personal skills; and your own personal characteristics. Firstly, try thinking about, using and developing your focus skills to ensure that:
- The nature of the discussion is outlined effectively
- Enthusiasm and meaningful intent is clearly conveyed, setting the meeting tone right from the start, motivating those present
- People’s interactions are effectively managed
- Contributions are encouraged, acknowledged and shared around the group
- Agreement is active not passive
- Digressions are managed
- Pace and momentum are managed, ensuring that this is flexible and varied, appropriate to the nature of the meeting and its members
- The meeting is “balanced”, by allocating more time to productive topics and discussions, and to reflection, than to negative input
- Support is balanced with challenge
- Objectivity is encouraged
- Decisions are made using fair decision making processes
- Motivation is maintained by ending well, with a good summary, giving clear recognition of what has been achieved and of the contributions made. Promote action with an action plan and next steps
- Action and outcomes are promoted by agreeing and recording action plans
Workshop Facilitation Skills: Interpersonal Skills
Inter-personal skills are essential for effectively developing self-awareness, awareness of others and awareness of the group dynamics. Many of these skills are used in other leadership and management activities, such as coaching or mentoring. Think about how effective you are in each of these areas:
- Establishing trust
- Active listening
- Clarifying, paraphrasing, re-framing and checking understanding
- Asking questions
Workshop Facilitation Skills: Your Personal Characteristics
Effective structured facilitation is also reliant on some of your own personal characteristics. When facilitating meetings, it’s important to think about your own:
- Ability to learn
- Sense of humour
- Openness to change
Of course, whilst it’s important to be self-aware, don’t forget to think about how others may perceive your personal characteristics in relation to these. To what extent does this affect your ability to facilitate or manage? Think about your focus skills, process skills and your own personal characteristics to get the best from your meetings.
Effective workshop facilitation requires a wide range of skills. These include the ability to focus on how meetings/workshops are progressing, blended with your own inter-personal skills, and your personal characteristics. Combining these skills is not easy to do. It requires the skills to be developed, firstly by building your knowledge base, then by getting plenty of practice.
Remember though, developing your process skills is much easier when you’re clear about both the content of the meeting and of the process for facilitating it. Being sure of these makes it much easier for you to focus on using your skills to get the best from everybody at the meeting.
Tools to help your workshop facilitation skills
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