The secrets of successful facilitation
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The secrets of successful facilitation. Amanda Newbery Articulous Communications. Agenda. Working the group Grabbing and maintaining attention Using questions effectively Engaging all . 1. Working the Group. When facilitating, consider. The Trainees.

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The secrets of successful facilitation

The secrets ofsuccessful facilitation.

Amanda Newbery

Articulous Communications


  • Working the group

  • Grabbing and maintaining attention

  • Using questions effectively

  • Engaging all

The trainees
The Trainees

Consider what they want / expect

  • General information / knowledge

  • Technical information / knowledge

  • Advice

  • Entertainment

  • To be challenged

  • New perspective

  • Networking

  • To learn from others


Your facilitation style should seek to recognise trainees’ needs.


Encourage talking by greeting people when they arrive.

Try to learn about trainees’ backgrounds and experiences so you can refer to them later.

Be creative with introductions.

Get THEM to talk.


  • Body language

    • Stance, movement, gestures, hands, facial expressions, eye contact

  • Voice

    • Volume

    • Pace

    • Pitch (high, medium, low tone)

    • Inflection (change of pitch within a word),

    • Emphasis

    • Pause for power or effect, suspense, time for ideas to penetrate

Using your delivery to maintain attention
Using Your Delivery to Maintain Attention

  • Plan for excitement at the low energy points

    • Post lunch, post afternoon breaks, later days

  • If the group is bored, then change

    • Your pace or volume

    • Your spot – move in close or change sides

    • Your location – do an activity in the foyer or outdoors

  • Movement creates interest

    • Use the whole room

    • Present from different sides

  • Avoid monotony at ALL costs

    • Vary pace, volume and emphasis

  • Don’t rush – it shows lack of confidence


  • Making it Relevant

    • Feature vs benefit

    • Action vs impact / consequence

  • Content - Making it Understandable

    • Translate jargon immediately

    • Avoid use of acronyms or write up on the board

    • Use visuals (eg. Simple one like ice bergs)

    • For complicated information use flow charts or analogies

  • Content - Driving home your point

    • Repeat important information

    • Summarize important ideas (“three key lessons")

    • Signpost important ideas (at the start, end and throughout)

    • Examples


It takes hard work and variety to maintain attention.

3 using questions effectively
3. Using Questions Effectively

Active listening
Active Listening

  • Background Listening

  • Passive Listening

  • Active Listening

    • What 5-10 seconds for people to answer

    • Use non-verbals to encourage

    • Don’t interrupt or correct mid-sentence

    • Respond to what trainees REALLY say

    • Ask follow up questions (especially clarifying, summarising, prioritising)

Managing answers
Managing Answers

  • Handling Wrong Answers

    • Get them to clarify to understand exactly why they’re saying that

    • Ask them to think about the consequences / other perspectives etc

    • Ask others (be careful though)

    • If they don’t see why they are wrong, you need to be clear and say what is right.

  • When You Don’t Know the Answers

    • Ask the class what they think

    • Reiterate what you do know

    • Be honest and say you will check

    • Don’t bluff


Use questions to foster interactivity and self-discovery.

4 engaging all from the dominant to the quiet
4. Engaging All: From the Dominant to the Quiet

Who do you tend to struggle with
Who Do You Tend to Struggle With?

The Wallflower?

The Exhausted?

The Know-it-All?

The Squeaky Wheel?

Trainees who dominate
Trainees Who Dominate

  • Go around the room and ask each person to speak.

  • Pick out individuals to answer.

  • Use non verbals to look for answers elsewhere.

  • When working in small groups, nominate scribes, ask the dominating person to scribe, nominate group representative

  • Invite others to speak “what other thoughts are there?”

  • Delicately interrupt and invite comments “Jim, before you continue, does anyone else have an opinion on that?”

  • Talk to them at the break. Thank them but ask them to help you to get others to contribute more by asking them to hold back a bit.

Trainees who don t participate
Trainees Who Don’t Participate

Is it one or many? Could it be something you’re doing?

  • Go around the room and ask everyone to contribute

  • Start with easier questions to manage fears. Eg. “Think of a situation at home…”

  • Break trainees into pairs rather than small groups to work on problems

  • Ask a question and get trainees to write down their answers first before answering

  • Try to refer to what trainees have said during the training

  • When in small groups, see if quiet trainees s are more likely to participate and then encourage them

  • Use sentence completion exercises “when X happens, we increase the risk of …”

Top tips
Top Tips

  • Create a conducive environment

  • Establish rules early and upfront

  • Mix up the groups – by invitation, number off, choose a question, group via experience

  • Use individuals’ names when asking questions

  • Round robins for activity debriefs

  • Selecting participants for debriefs

  • Think about how you set up an exercise

  • Create competitions

  • Prizes

  • Change the order of activities

  • Call for volunteers but be sneaky

  • Talk to difficult people at breaks

Section 6 putting it all together
SECTION 6 - Putting it all together

  • Start as you mean to go on

    • Interactivity at the beginning

    • Set grounds rules

    • Establish positive environment

  • Plan how you will handle the difficult and the disinterested

  • Mix up your delivery through your activities, non-verbals and voice

  • Have a plan