What does the facilitator do?

The facilitator lends his or her process expertise to assist with all aspects of conducting the meeting.  Some of these tasks include:

  • Defining the group's purpose and plan the meeting agenda.
  • Determine what information the participants need and how to provide that information.
  • Help the group to set and enforce ground rules and time frames.
  • Encourage full group participation through adopting a participatory attitude and by using appropriate group processes.
  • Encourage the group to develop inclusive and mutually acceptable solutions.
  • Ask key questions to focus the group's attention on the topic.
  • Give the group tasks in a logical sequence.
  • Identify when the group is stuck and select a strategy for getting them back on task.
  • Manage the flow of communication so everyone can participate.
  • Assist the group to identify and action plan for implementing decisions and carry out plans.
  • Develop a climate in which participants can learn.
  • Share ideas while drawing on the knowledge and experience of participants.  Keep the one-third rule in mind.  One-third of what your participants learn comes from you, one-third from each other, and one-third from the experiences they brought into the session with them.  You need not be an expert in all areas.  Participants will benefit from networking and sharing with others.
  • Coach and enable others.  Providing support and assistance to the group is vital.  Plan opportunities during and after the sessions so that participants can work with you and with each other for continued progress.
  • Serve as a model.  How you present yourself, deliver material, design sessions and respond to the audience are all consciously and subconsciously recorded by your audience and retained for their future use.
  • Raise questions.  Ask open-ended questions to guide the discussion and allow for participant input.  Have questions ready in your session designs, but try to expand on the dialogue in the room by forming questions that relate to the discussion.
  • Restate ideas in different words or mention them later in the topic to reinforce important concepts.  This will help those group members who are experiencing difficulty learning to catch up with the rest of the participants.
  • Value structure and creativity. Facilitators should enter their sessions with the best possible design.  Structuring in terms of time, format, methods and content management is crucial.  However, be flexible with these issues to help maintain everyone's interest and ensure that a diverse audience is kept engaged spruce up old designs and try new methods to make each course and interesting journey for you as the facilitator.

Other important characteristics of a facilitator:

  • Self knowledge (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Knowledge of audience (what they expect)
  • Concern for quality (and being able to describe it)
  • Ability to inspire (create a learning environment) flexibility, versatility, (ability to switch gears at the last moment)