Excellent Facilitation: Embrace Challenges

Since excellent facilitation is a process, it is important to understand that there will be difficult times ahead. One of the keys to excellent facilitation is knowing that criticism will come – and that can be good. We cannot grow without criticism. In a society where criticism is often a one way street, we must be aware of the outcomes of our actions, embrace these challenges, and learn from them. Following are several strategies for fostering critical thinking with participants.
Seven Ways to Grow Groups

1.     Use think-pair-share. Have individual thinking time, discussion with a partner, and presentation back to the group.

2.     Ask follow-ups. Why? Do you agree? Can you elaborate? Can you give an example?

3.     Withhold judgment. Respond to answers without evaluating them and ask random group members to respond to them.

4.     Summarize. Asking a participant at random to summarize another’s point to encourage active listening.

5.     Think out loud. Have participants unpack their thinking by describing how they arrived at an answer.

6.     Play devil’s advocate. Asking participants to defend their reasoning against different points of view.

7.     Support participant questions. Asking participants to formulate their own questions.


These are the plainest steps I can write down right now for becoming an excellent facilitator. There is plenty of information about facilitation online, and some of it is good. This is meant for those who want to be Excellent. I hope you join us!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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