ToolBox

Facilitation skills 101 – introduction for beginners
Tags: facilitation, techniques, planning, feedback
Information

Present facilitation methods and techniques. Explore the activities of preparing a workshop. Practice giving feedback on workshops.

To be able to use different facilitation techniques. To be able to carry out a needs analysis, set session objectives, design a session and arrange the logistics according to specific needs. To be able to handle difficult facilitation situations and challenging participants.

During the part where participants are running workshops, if it does not go well, you can expect a certain level of frustration. However, in the discussion after running the workshops always tackle the frustration with a positive attitude.

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The workshop should be run by a semi experienced trainer/facilitator at least.

Requirements

240 minutes

A big room with tables and chairs that can be moved around.

Not specified

Secondary school students.

Flipchart papers, markers.

Prepare the cases for facilitation (print or write on paper). See handout.

Activities step by step
Step 1:
5 Minutes

To prepare the environment for a long training on facilitation first ask about participants’ experiences connected to facilitation. Ask basic questions, where participants can answer by raising hands:

  • Who has had the experience of facilitating a meeting? 10 meetings? More than 20 meetings?
  • Who has had the experience of facilitating a workshop? 10 workshops? More than 20 workshops?
  • Who has had the experience of facilitating a training (more than 1 day)? 10 trainings? More than 20 trainings?
Step 2:
10 Minutes

Ask the participants what do they expect to learn during this session. Post their answers on a flipchart paper and leave it hanging for the rest of the sessions. Be aware that some of the expectations will not be tackled during the session, so it would be wise to leave time to discuss them at the end of the session after the expectorations have been reviewed by the participants.

Step 3:
10 Minutes

Ask the participants to share a personal story of a bad meeting/workshop they have either led or attended. Ask them to reflect on the following questions:

  • What made the meeting so bad?
  • How was it facilitated?
  • How did the participants behave and why?
Step 4:
15 Minutes

After the groups' mood has been set to facilitation, present shortly what will be done until the end of the session.

Step 5:
15 Minutes

Agree-disagree statements: To get more into the mood of learning about facilitation and to get the grasp what the role of the facilitator is, a simple activity is played. Put a A4 paper with the word agree on one side of the room and another one with disagree on the other side.

The activity is like follows: The facilitator will read statement by statement. After each statement the participants are asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement. If they agree they should walk towards the agree paper, or otherwise towards the disagree paper. After reading a statement, and after participants are placed throughout the room, ask some of them why did they pick that exact spot. Try to avoid one-on-one discussions/debates.

Statements can be:

  • A teacher is a facilitator.
  • A facilitator should have a good knowledge of the topic.
  • Facilitators` task is to encourage the people to come to the meetings.
  • As a facilitator I always welcome participants who are late.
  • If somebody is provocative as a facilitator I ignore it.
  • A facilitator should have ethical principles.
  • A facilitator should be also a mediator.
  • The facilitator is the leader of the meeting.

After the activity has finished, explain to the participants that this was one of the methods they can use, as well as when the method should be used (easing into a topic, getting a sense of where the group stands on certain principles, etc.).

Step 6:
15 Minutes

In the next part of the session the question “How to prepare in order to run a workshop” will be answered.

In order to do so, an activity called “Socratic circles / Fishbowl” is going to be carried out. Ask the participants to form two circles, one inside the other. The inner circle should have 5-7 participants, and the rest will make the outer circle. The question mentioned is discussed between the inner circle. The task of the participants in the outer circle is to watch and note how the discussion was carried out, how did the participants communicate.

After 5 minutes of discussion introduce this new discussion technique to the group and ask them to give a few situations when it is appropriate.

Step 7:
15 Minutes

The NAOMIE principle of workshop planning: In this step, the facilitator will introduce a principle very often used when planning a workshop or a meeting. The principle is called NAOMIE because, whilst planning a workshop, the facilitators have to be aware of the following:

  • Needs – what do the participants need? Why am I facilitating this workshop/meeting?
  • Aims – What are the aims I want to achieve as a facilitator?
  • Objectives – What are the objectives I want the participants to fulfill after the workshop is finished?
  • Methods – Which methods am I going to use?
  • Implementation – How will I structure the workshop? What parts will it have, and how long will they last? Do I have plan B in case something happens? What are step-by-step activities?
  • Evaluation – Were the needs, aims and objectives fulfilled? Was the implementation all right? Were the methods appropriate?

Explain the principle in a creative way, with drawings, or anything that comes to your mind.

- BREAK -

Step 8:
40 Minutes

In the following part the participants will try to plan a session, using the NAOMIE principle. Present the situations from the first handout, or come up with new situations (ask the group if they want to contribute to this part). Ask the participants to keep the workshops short, not more than 30 minutes.

Cases for facilitation:

  1. You are going to represent your organization in a regional meeting. The aim of this meeting is for the authorities to listen to different student opinions on things that need to be changed at the school. You are responsible of organizing and facilitating a meeting with the members of your organization in order to gather input and present it to the meeting.  
  2. The number of active members in your organization decreased during the last years. You want to organize an event in order to attract more active members. You are responsible of organizing and facilitating a meeting for your members of your organization in order to decide on the event that you would like to organize. 
  3. You are responsible for organizing and facilitating the first meeting of the year of your organization. The purpose of this meeting will be to decide the activities of the year ahead.  
  4. Your organization arranged an exchange with a student organization from China. In order to provide all your members with the opportunity to travel you would like to organize fund raising activities in order to cover the traveling expenses of 30 students. You are assigned to organize and facilitate a meeting for your members to make an action plan. 
  5. You are invited in a school to give a workshop to students on youth activism. Since you d like to have a branch of your organization in this school you are planning to do it as much interactive and interesting as possible.
Step 9:
10 Minutes

Using the workshop plan from the previous step, the groups will now have the task to put the workshop in a particular working space. Considering the amount of groups, the places that the groups have to put their workshop in can be:

  • a school classroom
  • an amphitheater
  • a big room with tables, but without chairs
  • a grass field outside
  • other...

The aim of this step is to realize how important space organisation is for a successful workshop. Each group gets a flipchart paper, and they have to draw a picture of how they will organise the space for their workshop.

- BREAK -

Step 10:
100 Minutes

During this part of the session, two groups of participants will have an opportunity to try out the workshops they have designed, with the space requirements they had to fulfil. As the facilitator, ask the groups whether they want to volunteer. Ask the other participants to wait outside.

One cycle of running a workshop goes like this:

  1. Room preparation – 5 minutes
  2. Running a workshop – 30 minutes
  3. Discussion – 15 minutes

While the groups is preparing the room, wait outside with the other participants. In order to make the task of holding a workshop a little more challenging, the participants of the workshop (the group waiting outside) will receive some roles that they will need to act out:

  • a very passive participant
  • a participant that does not speak the language
  • a participant constantly teasing others
  • other roles...

Ask the participants not to be excessive in their roles, and to keep is subtle. This is very important in order not to have a negative impact on the group that is running the workshop.

In the feedback discussion after the workshop try to tackle the topic of handling challenging behavior during the workshop. Also, tackle handling different barriers (language, etc.).

Step 11:
15 Minutes

The last part of the session is left for wrapping up, repeating what was learned, as well as answering any of the questions that remained unanswered.

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