What fabulous facilitators do

5 things fabulous facilitators do

Why you need to start doing these things to stand out as a presenter

Make sure you’re doing number 5 to take your facilitation to the next level.

Do you know a fabulous facilitator?

Any AI summaries on this topic just don’t cut it. The art of facilitation is complex. It has so many moving parts and intangibles. When I observe wonderful facilitators in action, I marvel at how all of this appears so completely effortless. Fabulous facilitation is a skill, honed over time, to be admired. It is a pleasure to witness. Although each facilitator has their own style, there are core principles or traits consistent with all of them.

Here are five things I believe every fabulous facilitator excels at. I have added one “fabulous” personal recommendation for each category, although each of the people I mention are truly great at every aspect of facilitation.

Fabulous facilitators: Do their homework

Fabulous facilitators are organised.

They have prepared well. They don’t fiddle around wasting your time trying to find pieces of paper or a presentation on a screen. Everything is in its place before they start. Not only do they know their content, but they also have strategies up their sleeves. They have contingencies or techniques to use when things don’t go according to plan. And if they truly are fabulous, there will be many things that don’t go to plan, and we never even know about them.

Part of a facilitator’s homework is doing things to help people feel at ease in advance. This happens by providing useful and thorough information ahead of any event. It means reaching out to ask if anyone needs support. It also includes welcoming participants before the event and as they arrive on the day.

Chemène Sinson you absolutely rock at this!

Chemene Sinson has a relaxed and casual smile

Fabulous facilitators: Read the room (or zoom)

Reading the room is constant. Learning environments can be physical or digital or both. Regardless of the environment, fabulous facilitators observe and adjust. They notice obvious signals such as raised hands. They are alert to subtle messages such as changes in facial expressions. They listen actively.  Their delivery is flexible, yet they never lose sight of the key deliverables. The best facilitators pick up on signals that may seem intangible to others.

Louise Kelly this is you through and through. Even when you are a participant you somehow manage to pick up cues from others and assist the delivery process seamlessly. It is an art form.

Louise Kelly has a warm and welcoming smile.

Fabulous facilitators: Are inclusive

We all want to be inclusive. When participants are valued and heard they are more likely to listen and learn. On the flipside, when participants feel excluded, they will fixate on their feelings. They will forget key messages. Exclusion is often unintentional, but fabulous facilitators know this and work hard to achieve inclusive learning environments. There are some wonderful resources to support inclusive facilitation. The Deep Listening resources by Oscar Trimboli and the Inclusive Speaker resources by Denis Boudreau, CPWA are two of my favourites.

However, it is Martin Probst who I think of first in this category. I love his mantra: “Do I matter? Do I belong? Can I contribute?”. Martin leads by example, which is exactly what you want from a leadership expert. He demonstrates leadership on every occasion and in every setting.

Martin Probst facilitating at an Amazon authors event.

Fabulous facilitators: Bring their unique personality

The best facilitators are not always funny. They are not always outgoing. They are not always well dressed. Some are. Some aren’t.

However, the very best facilitators do share a few personality traits. They are always authentic. They are their own true selves when they facilitate. They allow themselves to be vulnerable. They invite and accept feedback. They don’t pretend to know something they don’t know, or to answer questions they don’t know the answer to. If there is any laughter to be had it is usually directed at themselves. They diffuse tension and lighten the mood by revealing who they are to us. This type of delivery helps us to connect with them, diffuse our fears, and be open to what we need to learn.

By far and away the best person I have witnessed at this is Erin King. She is legendary for bringing everyone on the journey with her, no matter their background, seniority, experience, or attitude. Love your work Ezza.

Erin King is dressed to impress

Fabulous facilitators: Protect psychological safety

Establishing ground rules is only a starting point for a psychologically safe environment. Fabulous facilitators work on creating safe environments. They actively manage psychological safety by walking the talk. They stand up for minorities. They challenge poor behaviour in a non-threatening way. They intervene when necessary. They champion diversity. They hear and respect all voices. In fact, they work very hard to ensure everyone feels safe and valued.

Sonali D’silva speaks, posts, and works on this all the time. Her comments are evidence-based. She is a thought-leader. She is warm and welcoming to everyone. She delivers challenging messages with ease, and her messages are always worth listening to in whatever forum she delivers them.

Sonali D'Silva smiling

As I prepare for a presentation next week I am thinking about these inspirational people. Chemène, Louise, Martin, Erin and Sonali I hope this new post made you smile.

To view their responses visit the post on LinkedIn.

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