Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for May, 2013

Tips for facilitating large groups

2013-05-28 16.14.40Facilitating larger groups provides a different set of challenges for the facilitator. This week Sharon and I ran our Facilitation Skills Workshop in Qld with a group of 30 professionals who work with beef producers.

Here are a few tips for working with a group this size

  •  Have tables set up with five participants per table, this is the maximum I would have at one table to ensure everyone is involved. More that this reduces interaction and provides the opportunity for the quieter members to “hide” within the group.
  • Check visibility – sit in some of the seats prior to the participants arriving to check you are able to clearly see the front of the room, the flip charts, other participants etc.
  • Having two facilitators is very important for variety and the ability to engage with the smaller groups. Our rule of thumb is one facilitators per 12 participants.
  • When developing the group guidelines ask if participants will move tables after each break. This assist with the energy in the room as well as ensuring the participants get to know each other and work with different personality types.
  • Introductions and icebreakers can be carried out at each table, however I still believe it is important for everyone to introduce themselves briefly to the whole group. This can be simply their name and where they are from.
  • Instead of collecting an expectation from each person one at a time and writing these up on the flip chart give everyone a black texta and piece of A6 paper. We asked everyone to write up one expectation, put their name on the paper and stick it up on our “sticky wall”. We then read through the expectations so everyone was aware of what people were expecting. At the end of the workshop we asked everyone to take their expectation sheet back from the wall and write a comment on how well this had been met. These we collected as part of our evaluation.
  • Table activities become very important in groups this size and its important to provide a variety of activities. A few ideas include
    • Group discussion, writing up ideas on the flip chart paper and reporting back to the whole group.
    • Group discussion and then collecting one idea per table – going around until all ideas have been collected. The facilitator can record the ideas from the front.
    • Building on each others ideas – each table has a topic and piece of flip chart they write their ideas and then pass the paper onto the next table who builds on the ideas and so on. Eventually the paper will return to the original table so they can review all of the ideas.
    • The sticky wall can be used to collect ideas or points of view from everyone in the room using the a6 paper and read through by the facilitator.
  • As our session included some training and practice we divided the group into two for a practice session.

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Plenty for everyone

2012-05-09 16.40.24I’m a great believer in Adundance mentality – there are plenty of opportunities out there for all of us.

When I was writing this  I was sitting in bed with a cup of tea looking out at Wellington Harbour after facilitating in beautiful surroundings in rural NZ with groups of amazing rural women. The workshops are about women reaching ther potential, identifying their passion and purpose and developing goals. (First Steps – Agri-Women’s Development Trust)

I reflect on my own journey and the opportunity to attend a similar workshop in Australia over 12 years ago where I was introduced to the concept of abundance mentality and a simple quote from a mentor “We get what we focus on so be careful what you focus on”.

Since taking on this philosophy in my life I have met so many wonderful people and opened my eyes to the opportunities in front of me. As my facilitation and coaching skills have grown  I have had the opportunity to share these with others and in turn grow their skills.

How can we become more abundant in our approach to life?

  • Focus on abundance – not scarcity
  • Appreciate what you have in your life – one easy way to do this is to record 3 things each say you are grateful for each day.
  • Surround yourself with positive people with an abundant outlook on life – it can be catching!
  • Share – give out.  Be generous with your time, gifts and skills. Robyn Henderson refers to this as the “law of reciprocity” what you give out is what you get back . She also highlights the importance of” Giving without expectation”.
  • Look for the opportunities in challenging times – what can be learnt or gained?
  • Look for the win-win
  • Appreciate those around you – acknowledge others

The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car … a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result get little.” Ben Sweetland.

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