Good facilitators are “group centered” not “facilitator centered”

A few weeks ago, I spoke about the differences between “facilitation” and “presentation” and I wanted to follow up on the facilitation part. In the previous article, I mentioned that facilitation is knowing and understanding that the group or participants have the answers. Hopefully this article will give some information that can help when you are faced with the thought of facilitating a group.

To some, facilitation can be a daunting task, especially if people feel uncomfortable in front of the room. Some feel facilitation can only be done by the most charismatic, polished and knowledgeable speakers. I can honestly say, if you would have seen me in front of the room on my first facilitation, I was none of the above. It is learned and the only way to learn is to actually take the risk and get out there. While I would like to say I am good, I do know there is always something I can learn. I watch and I listen to others who are facilitators. I may take back new techniques…some may work and others may not.

I believe facilitation is an art. An art in creating a group that becomes a learning community. A community where each person feels comfortable to share, learn, take risks and to grow.

Good facilitators are “group centered” not “facilitator centered”, which means the facilitator believes the group has the answers and solutions. They ask the right questions, use the right processes and through discussion and reflection the group will create their own appropriate solutions.

A good facilitator will value and appreciate all of the participants within the group they are working with. Know who they are before the workshop or meeting then when you meet, interact with them one on one. They will appreciate the effort and will become a learning community more quickly. Building trust among the group participants is crucial but they also must trust the facilitator.

I took these things away from my long time mentors Pat Heiny and Mary Jo Clark of Indiana, along with this, “When facilitating a group, facilitate with a partner whenever possible. How can you teach people or encourage people to work in a team when you stand alone in front of the group?” Good facilitators should model the way.

For more information on facilitation, contact Becky Wolfe, Executive Director of Leadership Butler,