Back to School: Honing Your Meeting Facilitation Skills

With the new school year under way, once again it's time for event planners to devote quality time to enhancing their skills.

One skill set which is worth developing is facilitation skills. While facilitation skills are certainly necessary for  training and development professionals, there are a number of reasons why they are also of value to event and meeting planners:

  • event and meeting planners often facilitate meetings during the course of planning and executing events
  • meeting and event planners are regularly called upon to head project teams
  • a solid understanding of what facilitation entails will help meeting planners develop more realistic timeframes and agendas for meetings and conference breakout sessions
  • an understanding of the basics of facilitation will help meeting planners improve the effectiveness of training and educational content during meetings and conferences

Through facilitation training, meeting planners will improve their effectiveness in

  • facilitator trainingstarting meetings off in a way that ensures buy-in from participants
  • making meetings more interactive
  • engaging all participants including introverts
  • giving clear and concise instructions
  • leading brainstorming sessions
  • helping groups make decisions
  • identifying and dealing with resistance even it if is expressed subtly
  • avoiding premature consensus
  • managing conflict
  • debriefing

When selecting facilitation skills training it is extremely important to avoid programs that are theoretical an select training that provides opportunities for practice. Some of the best programs use videotaped practice and provide participants with specific feedback to improve their skills.

There are a number of places where facilitation skills training is available:

  • The Bob Pike Group: The Art of Facilitation is a basic, 1-day introductory workshop covering the process and value of facilitation, strategies for handling disruptive participants, facilitating activities and discussions
  • Langevin Learning: Facilitation Skills for New Facilitators is an interactive workshop that covers basis facilitation through a structured process that can be used for facilitating meetings, project teams, and brainstorming session.
  • NTL Institute: Advanced, intensive facilitation skills training is available in a 5 day format. Programs include Facilitating Strategic Planning, Facilitating and Managing Complex Systems Change, and So You Want to Run a T-Group
  • McLuhan & Davies: Facilitating Learning, a 2-day workshop covers the difference between"presenting" and "facilitating learning", using the experiential learning cycle to improve impact for all learning styles, creative and diverse activities, games, ice breakers, brainstorming
  • The Training Oasis: Facilitator's Bootcamp, 2- to 3-day intensive workshop with videotaped practice exercises. Focuses on phases of group development and tasks at each phase, accelerated learning, session starters, energizers, debriefing, meeting the needs of Millennials
  • Centre for Creative Leadership: Leading Teams for Impact covers understanding group dynamics,engaging team members, leading cross-functional teams, managing conflict, and building team commitment

For more ideas to plan your professional development, also consult, The 5 Skills that Will Boost Your Confidence in Front of Audiences, Book Shelf: Borrowing from the Interactive Training LibraryBack to School: Learning Resources for Event Planners, and Fine-tuning Analytical and Technical Skills

Photo Credits: Facilitation Skills Training, The Training Oasis

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