Tip #676:  Tips for Facilitating a Group

“The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding, and cultivates shared responsibility.”  Sam Kaner

Group facilitation requires patience and attention.

Here are 14 tips to keep in mind the next time you’re involved in facilitating a group:

1.   Help the members feel welcome [smile, shake hands, make sure all members know each other]

2.   Review the agenda and objectives for the session [put the agenda with time frames on a flip chart sheet for easy reference]

3.   Explain your role [to keep the discussion on time and on track- and ensure equal participation of all members

4.   Remind the members of the ground rules [post them on a wall]

5.   Encourage group discussion [make sure not to dictate its direction or question other members’ statements in a manner that exerts undue influence]

6.   Keep the discussion on time and on track [follow the agenda]

7.   Ensure that each member has an equal opportunity to speak [determine how much time each member can have for each section, tell them that amount of time and maintain tight control so that no member runs over into another member’s time]

8.   Maintain a comfortable and respectful atmosphere [if there are disagreements, remind everyone they are there for the same reason; make sure the focus of discussion is always on the problem, not the personalities of the members]

9.   Keep dominant or more verbal members from taking over the discussion [indicate at the beginning of the session that you may need to interrupt a discussion to stay on time and complete the agenda]

10.  Take notes of key points or answers to critical questions [write these on a flip chart throughout the session; this includes their valuation comments

11.  Achieve the session objectives [be clear what they are and make sure the members know what they are]

12.  Discuss next steps [make sure the group knows the next issue they will address]

13.  Thank the members for their participation and ideas when closing the session [reinforce the feeling of collegiality and validate the important role each played during the session]

14.  Follow up after each session [send any notes taken to the group members]

May your learning be sweet.

Deborah

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