How to Improve Facilitation Skills

the cultivation crew

You ever been in a training session and felt like you had been talked at the whole time? The person at the front of the room droning on over the PowerPoint in a monotone tempo somehow made you notice how uncomfortable the chairs are. How much do you remember from that session? Besides the fact that you wished someone would pull the fire alarm.

Or have you been lead in a presentation and dreaded being in front of the bosses so much that the only safe thing to do was read the damn PowerPoint😵‍💫

Or maybe you had a super energetic presenter that at least had some flow and mixed in a couple of corny jokes, but you still left feeling like you were being talked at the entire time. If anyone had any questions they had to wait until the end and when he finally did answer questions his got to response is Ill have to back to you on that.

I have done and experienced all of these and I kinda just thought this is the way it is in the professional world. 

But it doesnt have to be that way.

There are some master facilitators out there and more importantly it is a skill that can be built.

The Google defines Facilitator as: A person or thing that makes a process easy or easier

So having solid facilitation skills when delivering training makes the transfer of information easier. Delivering the quarterly report in a facilitative manner makes the experience easier for all involved. Leading a difficult fact finding session around problems gets easier.

By "easier" I aint just talking about comfort, I am specifically talking about meeting the intended outcome. Hitting the target gets easier.

Its like greasing the wheels and great facilitation makes everyone present an active participant of the entire experience. Which just in case you didnt know, this shared experience thing is kinda how you cultivate buy in.

So I mentioned these skills can be built, the main reason I say that is because I have added some facilitation skills to my toolbelt and these skills are the core of my business.

Before you shrink back into your shell, thinking that only outgoing wackos like me can build facilitation skills. You need to know that I started off clunky and awkward. I was terrified, embarrassed, and exasperated for a long time before I found my way.

During those funky times I focused on these small, simple, tactical things:

  • Introductions
  • Engaging the audience
  • Not reading off the stupid screen

Introductions 

This is the easiest one and sets the tone for the entire experience. By Introductions I mean having everyone in the room or the call introduce themselves. This helps you learn peoples names and signals to the group that speaking during the engagement is OK👍 

After I got the hang of doing the intros I added icebreaker questions for them to answer as they introduce themselves. And I have an ice breaker cheat sheet for you, hit the link to get the icebreaker cheat codes. 

Engaging the Audience

Engaging is a little tougher cuz it required me to be think on my feet. At first it was as basic as adding questions for the audience into my presentation but I was caught off guard at first because I assumed someone in the audience would jump in with a response. 

But sometimes they need a little motivation, and that motivation is SILENCE. Which meant I had to get comfortable with Silence. How did I do this you ask? Well I count to 10, in my head of course. Yes them 10 seconds feel like an eternity but I rarely got to 10 and the few times that I did I just called on a specific person by name.

Not Reading off the Stupid Screen

This was the hard one for me. I tried memorizing the content but that always felt clunky and left me ill equipped to address questions in the moment. By ill equipped, I mean if anyone asked me a question it through me off for the rest of the session.

I finally found my sweet spot, PICTURES. Pictures on the slide were the key for me. I use pictures to remind me of a story associated with the material I am delivering. Connecting the content to a personal story really elevated my game, cuz I could be way more animated and agile when questions came up.

Also I want to be super clear that preparation and repetition is what helped me get better. 

If you want to build your facilitation game you should check out The Cultivation Crew. The group will be focusing on Facilitation for Connection. The first session is on Friday June 14th at 2pm Central.

Looking to level up your Facilitation Skills?

The Cultivation Crew has what you are looking for. 
Sign up for the replay of Session 1