The biggest difference between facilitation and presentation is how we address a group.

When we look at exercising leadership in the 21st Century, we must look at what the groups we work with need and we must look at the difference between facilitation and presentation. Are we facilitating the group to make progress on their issue or are we presenting the facts to the group to make progress on the issue?

The biggest difference between facilitation and presentation is how we address a group. A facilitator provides opportunities by developing processes for the group to work out their own issues and asking questions for the group to come up with their own solutions. A presenter has all of the facts on an issue and “presents” those facts to the group in order to solve the issue.

As a facilitator for over 15 years, I have learned the difference, sometimes the hard way. If I am working with a group on Board Development, they are looking to me to have the answers and to give them those answers, but I must design a workshop where the group can build trust and understanding where they want to be as a board. This is where part of the workshop is about presentation and part is facilitation. If a group asks for help to design a strategic plan, I design a facilitative workshop, gathering tools and processes to help the group get to the end result – their strategic plan. I do not have the answers to what their plan should look like.

Today, people within organizations want more input into the future of that organization. Learning to facilitate group discussion on ideas and plans brings a sense of belonging to those who may not have a say in the day to day operations. Facilitation can happen from anyone in the group, not just the person in a position of authority. If you are not the CEO, President, Manager or Chair how can you facilitate discussion without causing hardships with the people in positions of authority? By not usurping their positions but by asking questions that creates great discussion.

Here are some questions that may help – design in a way that fits your group and your style.

Questions to focus attention:

“What’s important to you about ____and why do you care?”

“What opportunities can you see in __________?”

“What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in _________?”

Questions to Connect Ideas

“What’s taking shape?” “What are you hearing underneath the opinions?”

“What’s emerging from the conversation?”

“What had real meaning to you?”

Questions to create forward movement

“What would it take to create change on the subject?”

“What’s possible and who cares?”

“What risks may be encountered on the issue?”

Anyone can facilitate discussion within a group. Taking time to frame the right questions at the right time is hard work but important work.

For more information, contact Becky Wolfe at Leadership Butler,