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Get Inspired during Facilitation Week

International Facilitation Week


"International Facilitation Week takes place each year during the third week of October. Its purpose is to showcase the power of facilitation to both new and existing audiences and to create a sense of community among facilitators and their groups worldwide.

Since its launch in 2013, the week has become a spark that ignites activities around the world to highlight the benefits of facilitation, the gifts of facilitators and the comradeship of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF)."

It's the IAF Facilitation Week, and as with every year I love finding out new stuff and getting inspired by other facilitators.

Personally, I think Twitter is a great place to see what's going one, search or use the hashtag #FacWeek.

A few posts I found inspiring this morning:

You can also view all events listed in the IAF Website.

I hope you find something that inspires you in Facilitation Week!

What is facilitation?

Six facilitation tips

Having been facilitating workshops for about 20 years, I recently reflected on
what is facilitation when I was asked to run a masterclass for a facilitation academy in Helsinki.

I asked myself what are the key lessons about facilitation I would teach my younger self? Here's my six lessons on successfully facilitating meetings and workshops:

1. Plan with an outcomes focus


People don’t want meetings or facilitators. They want outcomes. I approach every assignment with a focus on outcomes, part 2 of
the book I wrote about facilitation is all about outcomes. How to understand what they are, how to articulate them and how to use outcomes to plan facilitation process is a core skill, maybe THE core skill.

Lesson 1 means three things:

- The contracting / preparation phase is key.
- Understanding what is really needed is at the heart of this activity.
- This skill is as important as facilitation - maybe more important than 'front-of-room' facilitation skills

2. Understand the cultural, emotional and political currents beneath the surface


Management guru, Peter Drucker, famously said "Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast". For facilitators, we fail to take time to understand the cultural, emotional and political currents beneath the surface at our potential cost.

Lesson 2 means really one thing, in this case said in three ways!

- Understand actions are guided by thoughts and values
- The invisible shapes the visible
- Take time to understand these things!

3. Preparation takes longer than delivery


In my experience it usually takes longer to prepare for a workshop than facilitate it. This is not always the case, but certainly high stakes, high risk strategic workshops are very likely to require more preparation time than delivery time. Workshops are expensive. The time people take out of a business costs a lot, and the impact of a productive workshop (or a highly unproductive one) can be huge.

Lesson 3 means …

- Workshop design is a key skill
- Translating objectives into workshop process, taking cultural, political, emotional into account
- Good facilitators have many tools at their disposal (and are process / tool neutral. As a facilitator who sometimes uses LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® I like it when clients enquire if I favour any particular tool. My answer is always no, I'm outcome driven, and tool neutral).

4. Own the workshop. Take responsibility for what happens. Be the (participatory) leader

When I facilitate I assume that I'm responsible for the outcome. With this mindset I assume it is my job to be a 'participatory leader' and have the participants to interact with the subject-at-hand and each other in the best way possible that achieves the outcome. My job is not about content (otherwise I'd be a consultant, not a facilitator) it is about outcome driven process.

Lesson 4 means …

- Understand the tremendous power of orchestrating or choreographing participation. This is a subtle power that might at times be invisible to participants, as they are absorbed by the content (and each other).

5. Facilitate the people not the process

In 2006 I facilitated a two day workshop for one hundred head teachers. My client team at the Governments 'Department for Education' included a wonderful man called David Jackson. I carefully planned a workshop process and during the workshop kept the participants on track with that process.

At the end of the workshop David offered me the feedback that I should 'facilitate the people not the process'. This lesson has become a core idea for me… and whilst I plan carefully (as in 3 above!) I now abandon the plan if it is not meeting the emergent needs of a group.

Lesson 5 means …

- Don't "be a slave" to your carefully prepared plan
- Develop and grow your awareness about what a group needs as a process unfolds and if something important emerges, be ready to drop, abandon or modify what you had planned.
- Invest in developing new skills and adding new tools to your 'facilitator tool box'

6. Welcome and value participation (no matter what kind it is)


The most important 'guiding principle' I use as I design and facilitate meetings is the principle of participation. It is the core idea or value that good facilitators hold.

Lesson 6 means …

- Facilitators must welcome participation no matter what its guise. If this shows up as joy or anger, a smile or a tear it is all equally welcome. To do otherwise is to not invite participation.

Four other lessons

As I pondered what I had learnt in many years as a facilitator the six lessons above seemed like the main advice I would give my younger self. Four other tips I might offer are:

Speak slowly and clearly - especially in multi-lingual events where English is not everyone's first language.

Big presence / small presence - know when to be large… and when to be almost invisible.

Create relatedness - even before the workshop begins, as people arrive, creating a sense of relatedness can be the difference that makes the difference.

Give responsibility / autonomy - empowering participants to take responsibility for what happens in the workshop will have dividends after the workshop.

Most of the images above are taken from a book about facilitation called SERIOUSWORK. Disclaimer. I wrote most of it. You can download a good chunk of it free at

International Association of Facilitators Pro-Path

At ProMeet we are big supporters of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

IAF is a global association of over 1500 competency certified professional facilitators. It aims to promote the power of facilitation and drive up professional standards. It's a wonderful community and we have learnt a huge amount though
becoming certified, attending conferences, and participating in MeetUps.

A new development. IAF has been developing a 'Pro-Path', essentially adding two new tiers of membership, a 'mentored' level for people new to the profession and a 'senior or master' level for facilitators who already have attained "Certified™ Professional Facilitator or CPF" status.

It will all roll out next year, but to get the headlines of this 'pro-path' you can watch this short video.

Listening - and how to improve it

Over at our other blog on Serious.Global we have published a new post on listening.

First we introduce an idea that there are five levels of listening we use day-to-day and especially in meetings.

Next we explain how LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® uses three modes of communication that results in higher levels of listening.

Finally, for facilitators familiar with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, we share how to help people listen and understand even more fully.


10 reasons you'll love Slido

There are many audience interaction tools and technologies out there, but the one I think is the best (after having used a few) is Slido.

Let me share my 10 reasons why you should check out Slido next time you want to engage your audience.


1. Slido helps create
participatory meetings.

2. Participants report they
enjoy using Slido. EVERY time I use Slido at least one participant comes to tell me afterwards how much they enjoyed interacting.

3. Slido Polls are a great way to quickly
understand the headline opinions in the room.

4. Slido gathers
useful data.

Slido questions allow participants to ask questions when they arise (not just in the Q&A) and allow participants to ask difficult questions anonymously.

6. As a facilitator - Slido is easy to
set up before an event and use live during an event. No support needed.

7. As a participant the interface and UX is
simple and easy to use.

8. As a nerd, Slido is uses a
light weight browser, (not an app), pulls little data which means wi-fi/3G/4G networks are not hammered.

9. The team at Slido have worked hard and continue to do so to
constantly improve the product.

10. Above all else the Slido team are a pleasure to do business with, values driven people who believe audiences should have a voice and events should be participative.


For transparency I have not been made an ambassador for Slido but honestly if I were, I'd willingly take that role.

Find out more at

SeriousWork - Book Preface

Here is the preface from the book published by ProMeet, "Serious Work: How To Facilitate Meetings & Workshops Using The Lego® Serious Play® Method"

edge

On becoming a Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF)

In December this year I completed a certification process with the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). To become certified, the IAF require applicants to complete a two part process where candidates apply and provide written evidence and testimonial.

The written evidence is assessed against the six core competencies and successful candidates are then invited to the CPF assessment which consists of two interviews and candidates must facilitate a peer reviewed demonstration workshop.

New Book: Serious Work

Very exciting news.

ProMeet has published its first book.

www.Serious.Global or read two reviews below.


ProMeet. A 2016 Facilitation Impact Award Winner

IAF Regional Director Trevor Durnford and IAF Member Bruce Rowling present Sean Blair with the Facilitation Impact Award.

LEGO®, Dialogue and new meeting tools help leading college get a top UK value added score

ProMeet together with client, Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) have received a Facilitation Impact Award from the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

Clean Language Ice Breaker


Clean Language is a framework to ask questions without pre-suppositions.

Because sometimes questions are far from 'clean', we might inadvertently disguise opinions inside questions, and therefore partly determine the response of the person being asked the question.
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