Facilitation at its worst—and best!

As readers of this blog will know, I almost always focus on the positive ways in which we can improve our communications, whether as speakers or facilitators. Recently, however, someone wrote and asked, “What are the worst things you can do as a facilitator?” So here goes—my list of the 10 worst things a facilitator or meeting chair can do:

1. Embarrass or humiliate a member of the group
2. Lose your temper
3. Smirk or giggle at something someone said
4. Forcefully give your own opinion without listening to the other members of the group
5. Carry on a side conversation
6. Favor one person or small group over other members of the group
7. Not listen to what group members say
8. Take credit for someone else’s work
9. Shut people off dismissively before they have made their point(s)
10. Not trust the group process

So what about the 10 best things a facilitator can do? Here are 10 of my favorites:

1. Value the contributions of each and every member of the group
2. Listen not just to the words but to the body language of the speaker
3. Demonstrate respect for each person at the table, whether you agree with their position or not
4. Stay focused on the needs of the group
5. Prepare fully for the meeting—that means understanding the agenda, the likely issues and the potential points of view that will be expressed around the table
6. Encourage each member of the group to contribute to the meeting
7. Thank each person for his or her contribution
8. Check in with the group to see if everyone is satisfied with the process and the progress
9. Summarize key points and get confirmation from the group that you’ve summarized the issues and outcomes accurately
10. Smile…and say “thank you” again

Leave a Reply