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Facilitation Essentials: Practice Makes Progress

This quick reference tool is intended for employees at all levels who want to learn how to improve their facilitation skills and create opportunities to practice. It provides tips on how to get the most from participating in meetings and how to get experience designing facilitation processes, working with groups and helping groups to achieve their desired outcomes.

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Create opportunities to expand your facilitation skills.

Participating in meetings

  • Participate actively: be fully prepared, present and offer good questions.
  • Observe others who use facilitation skills in meetings, workshops or even conversations.
  • Observe and note your experiences with the design and facilitation, as well as how the facilitator worked with the group.

Designing facilitation processes

  • Experiment with new ways of working together during team or project meetings.
  • Seek out examples of meeting designs and look at ways to adapt them for your use.
  • Volunteer to design a session for a peer network.
  • Take time to reflect after a session you designed. Make note of what worked best, what you learned and where you might iterate. Keep these ideas handy for future use.

Working with groups in the space

  • Find a more experienced facilitator to support—produce a virtual session, take notes or co-host.
  • Host a breakout session as part of a larger event.
  • Look for opportunities to work with groups of varying sizes, from the very small to the very large.
  • Reach out to people who may be aware of opportunities.
  • To be able to participate more fully, offer support to colleagues who need assistance. Get to know how they experience the meeting or workshop and how one could make the experience more inclusive or access resources on inclusive session design.

Helping groups move to outcomes

  • Try new methods of doing "pulse checks" and seeking agreement.
  • Introduce the idea of a "harvest," whereby the group shares insights and takeaways together prior to finishing the meeting.
  • Offer to manage the evaluation process to understand how participants experienced the session and then consider alternatives as part of your reflective practice.

Bonus tips

  • Listen to your favourite interviewer to find good prompting questions or new ways to craft questions.
  • Practise "holding spaceFootnote*" in meetings or conversations, for other people to be able to express their ideas fully. This is a great way to apply your active listening skills.


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