Workshop Facilitation Skills

Building better teams!

Workshop Facilitation Skills

Building better teams!

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 own 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;
  • 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: Skills for effective workshop facilitation. Here we discuss the three kinds of workshop facilitation skills you’ll need, in order to deliver better workshops:

  • Focus skills
  • Inter-personal skills
  • Your own personal skills and characteristics  
Workshop Facilitation Skills: Focus

These are your ability to manage the training or workshop situation. Ensure you have planned the session out, thinking about what you want to achieve, and how you intend to structure your session to achieve it. Then when delivering the session, you need to stay focused on keeping the audience focused. Here are some things to think about and practice. Make sure:

  • The nature and aims of the session are 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 flexibility, adaptability and variation, 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.
  • Action is encouraged with an action plan and indication of next steps.
  • Action and outcomes are promoted by agreeing and recording the action plan.
Workshop Facilitation Skills: Interpersonal Skills

Inter-personal skills are essential for effectively developing self-awareness, awareness of others and awareness of the group dynamics.

Workshop facilitation skills

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
  • Communication
  • Active listening
  • Clarifying, paraphrasing, re-framing and checking understanding
  • Summarizing
  • Asking questions
Workshop Facilitation Skills: Your Personal Skills & Characteristics

Effective structured facilitation is also reliant on some of your own personal skills and characteristics. When facilitating meetings, it’s important to think about your own:

  • Ability to learn
  • Friendliness
  • Sensitivity and empathy
  • Integrity and sincerity
  • Sense of humour
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Responsiveness
  • Eye for detail
  • Openness to change
  • Self-awareness

Of course, whilst it’s important to be self-aware, don’t forget to think about how others may perceive your personal characteristics. Think about the extent to which any of these might affect your ability to facilitate or manage? What can you do to address any issues or possible shortcomings?

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 that skills are recognised, assessed and developed, firstly by building your knowledge base, then by getting plenty of practice.

Effective workshop facilitation

To be effective requires a combination of focus skills, process skills and your own personal skills and characteristics. Remember though, there’s little point relying on your personal skills unless 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

If you want to get better at leading team development, this article is a good place to start. But if you want to take your team leadership to the next level, here is a great set of tools to get you on your way.

For example, you might want to facilitate a meeting which encourages your team to build a shared understanding of what teamwork means in your specific context. That is, what it means to your team and more widely, to your organisation.

To do this though, words are often not enough. Building teamwork is also about what you do, starting with that shared understanding of teamwork, and agreeing together what you value.

That’s exactly what our “teamwork definition” tool is designed to do. You’ll find this tool, plus a wealth of other resources for team leaders in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions

These are fantastic little e-books, very thorough, easy to follow

We’ve used [the guides] as support tools for learners on our talent management programmes which has saved me a lot of time and a lot of money. I’d definitely recommend them.

Kieleigh - United Kingdom

Looking for more teams resources?

Try our great value e-guides

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