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Key Ingredients to Effective Facilitation

Greg Shamie
Greg Shamie
Trainer Orientation 9.2018 w Tom Armstrong

As Director of Staff Development at Leadership, I spend a lot of time either preparing and implementing trainings or coaching others on effective facilitation. There is no recipe or short cut that would instantaneously make you into an expert facilitator.

There are, however, a few key ingredients that will help you build a strong base to begin your facilitation journeys—and these ingredients will help you wherever you facilitate—your living room, the classroom, or the boardroom.

Define Facilitation

First, it is essential to establish a definition for facilitation. Facilitation comes from the Latin word ‘facilis’ which means “the act of making something easier”. Our primary job as facilitators is to create an environment of trust and connectedness that empowers our participants to activate their talents, deepen their awareness, reflect, and make positive change moving forward. 

Set Expectations

It is essential for both facilitators and participants to set clear expectations for your sessions. Ask your participants what they would like to walk away with by the end of the workshop. The expectations must not only be stated clearly, but also clearly understood by everyone in the room.

Meet Participants Where They Are

We bring our agenda: all prepared and ready to implement. We have set up our room and our materials in order to effectively put our lesson into action. But it’s easy to forget to meet your participants where they are at. Do this by greeting them positively as they enter your space, checking in with them, getting their voices in the room early on, and allowing them to be where they truly are—especially when they aren’t where you want them to be.

Listen More, Talk Less

If you start to hear too much of your own voice, it’s time to check in with your participants. Think about a question that will help you understand more about who’s in the room and what they are grasping or not grasping from what you are facilitating. Strive to continually assess where both individuals and the whole group are at, and balance that with what still needs to be accomplished.

Finish Strong

We know that there will be some kind of unexpected circumstance that will arise that either interrupts, cuts short, extends, or sabotages your session. No matter what happens, make sure to finish what you started in the most effective manner possible. The way I do this is by committing to get some kind of ‘evidence of learning’ from my participants.

This has been just a quick snapshot of the key ingredients to effective facilitation. I will expand in detail on each of these ingredients in future posts.

What are your best practices when facilitating? Tell me in the comments below, or

"Key Ingredients to Effective Facilitation", The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016

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Greg Shamie

By Greg Shamie

Greg Shamie is the Director of Staff Development at The Leadership Program, having been with the company for over 18 years. An internationally recognized facilitator, keynote speaker, and strategic coach, Greg’s focus is to inspire individuals to go beyond what they believe is possible. He loves the concept of Leadership no matter what a person’s role and is committed to helping people expand their perspectives on how to set and achieve their goals. He has presented internationally on such topics such as, “Leading By Example”, “Finding the Leader Within”, "Perseverance and the Power of Failure”, “Delivering Dynamic and Compelling Presentations”, and many more. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV) in New York City. Greg received his Masters in Educational Theatre from NYU. His professional mantra is ‘Connecting people and performance to purpose’.