Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead (1901–1978)
Cultural Anthropologist

Facilitating groups can be the most rewarding core activity of workshops. Observing the group process, seeing them grow and perform, and finally harvesting the rewards of your efforts by having people with more knowledge, skills, or/and better attitudes. This is a wonderful feeling!

Alliteration - Stand in the circle and throw the ball to those who didn't have it yet.
Stand in the circle and throw the ball to those who didn’t have it yet.

Procedure of group facilitation

That group facilitation can happen and in a successful way, you should plan and prepare properly. Remember: Success comes when preparation meets opportunity.

Objectives

Every session, every module, every part of a workshop has a specific objective. Accordingly, also a group facilitation contributes to the overall workshop’s output or outcome objective. The group facilitation is not merely l’art pour l’art, not just because you want to do something interactive. So, what do you want to achieve by a particular choice of facilitation technique?

Planning

Choose one of the suggested facilitation techniques below – or search others up – which fulfils your objectives. Fit it into your workshop plan according to the stage you expect the group to be in. This will be in most cases performing, sometimes also norming.

Ressources

We have mentioned for all facilitation techniques the required resources. This will make it easy for your copy them into your workshop plan and prepare them accordingly. Have them at hand and check their functionality better a day before.

Execution

For making things happen and a group of people act, be clear and concise what they should do and what you expect. You cannot explain it simple enough. And you should repeat it. There will always be participants who are not focused for a few moments, some who don’t understand your wording etc.

The best is to have it in written and explain it orally at the same time. The better understood, the less frictions you’ll encounter during the execution.

Observation and Correction

The procedure of your facilitation technique should work as planned. Mostly it doesn’t 100%. So, observe and

One criteria is the correct application of the technique. Therefor, study it properly and have the description at hand if you are not familiar with it yet. Another criteria are the 6 Balances of a Group. Pay attention to all six relevant areas.

In case you intervene, do it softly and nicely. Never get angry that things are not running as planned. In most cases it’s not the participants’ fault, but yours – by not explaining it properly, not verifying the understanding, not setting it up correctly. In most cases participants are really willing follow the course correctly. So, be polite, inquiry what’s going wrong and correct it.

And now enjoy your selection!


Open Space Technology

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.Joseph Joubert (1754—1824)French writer Open Space Technology (OST)...

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World Café

Having a good discussion is like having riches.Kenyan Proverb The World Café is a group facilitation technique for 12–60 people....

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Fishbowl

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.Robert Quillen (1887—1948)American Journalist Discussing in a fishbowl is...

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Ball bearing

Ball bearing is a good warm-up for free speech useful for many icebreakers. It's a multipurpose tool for direct interaction. As the name suggests, it functions like a ball bearing.

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Theme centered interaction

The psychological methodology Theme centered interaction (TCI) for group work focuses on active, creative and discovering learning process.

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MindMap for group facilitation

MindMap by Tony Buzan is really a gorgeous, multi-purpose tool. And yes, you can use MindMap for group facilitation as well. Here is how.

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Metaplan

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.Henry Ford (1863—1947)American Industrialist Working with Metaplan: having...

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