Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

I often co-facilitate, sometime with someone I know really well and have well established rapport and understanding and sometime with someone new. It adds another dimension not only for the participants, I have the great opportunity to watch and learn from someone else.

Co-facilitation is great for groups and for the facilitators the benefits include:

  • Different approaches will appeal to different participants
  • Provides the ability for one person to be focused on the group process and participants while other facilitates
  • Facilitators can manage their energy – hopefully be less tired at the end of the session
  • A blend of skills, knowledge and experiences
  • Opportunity for one facilitator to work with individuals at times while the other works the room
  • Its particularly good to have more than one facilitator with large groups who are working as small teams during the day
  • Learning from each others way of operating

For co-facilitation to work really well spend time establishing the ground rules before you start

  • Have a well developed and agreed session plan
  • Be clear on each persons role. Who is doing what when and who is the lead when.
  • Be clear about sticking to time frames. Flexibility with time can work as long as this is discussed prior. Personally I put a lot of effort into preparation and to have my time cut significantly through poor process is very frustrating and compromises the ability to facilitate well.
  • Stay focused in each others sessions – determine what you might be watching for in the group, in each other and about the process.
  • Bouncing / value adding or interrupting …  determine what are your boundaries around this. Done well it can appear seam-less and be very effective, done poorly the participants will be frustrated and observe frustration in the facilitators. Set up some signals for engagement and withdrawal (or to shut each other up!). This can be a simple as a “I’ll throw a question your way if I need your input”. Be respectful of each other.
  •  Allow time for feedback afterwards. What worked well? What could be done differently? Be open and honest with each other – this is a great way to develop skills and learn from each others way of operating. Analyse the process and how the participants reacted to it, were the defined outcomes met?

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