Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0135 | January 13, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...

Dear friends,

This week's article, "Facilitating Mega-Groups," offers some suggestions for working with very large groups. This scenario sometimes occurs with in the case of public meetings or in organizations proposing sweeping changes where all the players need to be involved. Most of the tips from this article came from Barbara J. MacKay, Principal for North Star Facilitators. This list, though comprehensive, in not the last word in facilitating large groups. If you have any tips or ideas for working with mega-groups that we didn't address, we'd love to hear from you.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis

FacilitatorU News

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Group Management Skill
Facilitating Mega-Groups
Facilitating large groups doesn't have to be overwhelming.
The Point

We're sometimes called upon to facilitate large groups containing anywhere from several hundred to even several thousand people. Many large-scale change efforts require getting the whole "system" into the room," and often this has proven to be an effective strategy. In the process, dozens of facilitation methodologies have been invented to meet the challenge of working effectively with large groups. Many powerful software tools have also been developed to support facilitators in these large efforts, often called groupware or electronic meeting systems (EMS).

Effectively managing and conducting events of this magnitude requires special preparation beyond what you might be accustomed to for your average sized group. Working with large groups will require you to be thoroughly organized and to have lots of help. Here are some tips for facilitating a "mega-group."


Before the event

- Ask lots of questions about who, what, when, where, food, etc. Spend enough time with your client to be to clearly define their desired outcomes and to learn all you can about the participants.
- Check out your space thoroughly. Imagine every detail and think through the flow of the event. How will you move people from one place to another with minimum confusion and maximum speed. Make sure facility people are top notch and clearly understand your needs.
- Train internal volunteers or colleagues to facilitate small groups. Run through the whole event with them in a "dress rehearsal."
- Develop your budget, accounting for costs for a group and event of this size, which can often be substantial.
- Have a right hand person who keeps an eye on detail before and during the event.
- Decide to be the main facilitator and avoid being a small group facilitator too.
- Have written instructions for every activity for each small group table.
- Have action plan templates with carbon copies so that participants can take a copy and leave a copy behind for the recorder.
- Find an onsite recorder who can document as you go. Get a really fast one and invite this person to at least one planning meeting so they can follow the process so you don't have to coach them during the event.
- Test your near final agenda with a small group of stakeholders.
- Proofread everything that goes out to invitees.
- Create a detailed facilitator's guide and a facilitators supply kit for each of your facilitators that details everyone's role. This is your "screenplay" for the event and is critical when many people are involved.

During the event

- Write out your intro for a strong opening, declaring the theme and proposed outcomes for the day.
- Set context constantly for each activity. Help people follow the agenda. Make it extremely simple to follow for participants even if the behind the scene details are complex.
- Know your agenda very well. Stay very positive, clear, and connected to your planning committee throughout the event.
- Be in charge while enjoying the event and the wisdom sharing.
- Stick to the plan. With a group this size, it's difficult to improvise.
- Spend only 20%-30% of time in short plenary sessions. The rest should be spent in small groups.

After the event

- Have a debriefing with the client group immediately after the event.
- Make sure you provide a timely and accurate document to your client outlining the details and outcomes of the event.
- Meet with planning committee to help them think about next steps.

Thank you Barbara J. MacKay for your contributions to this article. Barbara is the Principal for North Star Facilitators. Visit her website at

Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal?
You are free to do so providing you follow these guidelines.

How will you incorporate these items into your planning for the facilitation of large groups? Have we missed anything? Please email us your comments.
Becoming a Learning Facilitator Teleclass

Want to learn more about Learning Facilitation? This 5-day telecourse will explore how to make the leap from conventional teaching to the skills, attitudes, and practices necessary to create and facilitate a learning environment.

This teleclass held my attention, kept me thinking, and gave me inspiring ideas and tools that I look forward to using in my next workshop.
--Sherry Leblanc, Executive Life Coach--

Benefits from participating in the training...

- Enhance your love of teaching and training
- Learn new ways to get your students excited about learning.
- Review 7+ different models of teaching and learning.
- Learn to package your material in a way that better relates to your students.
- Learn to connect with your students in a way that's rewarding for you both
- Become a better listener and communicator.
- Release the burden of trying to "make" learning happen in your classroom.
- Collaborate and learn from your peers, who are all passionate about empowering groups.
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Real Time Strategic Change: How to Involve an Entire Organization in Fast and Far-Reaching Change by Robert W. Jacobs. (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1994).

Consultant Robert W. Jacobs walks you through his "Real Time Strategic Change" program, which, he explains, has been successfully implemented in numerous companies and organizations. He discusses how and why it works, and points out why other commonly used change strategies don't. Although the book achieves its mission nicely, it gets bogged down by continuous, detailed examples of each step in the process, which provide little in the way of illumination. His excellent guidelines for change still manage to shine through. We recommend this book to all those who are or will be involved with implementing individual, group or organization-wide change. --Rolf Dobelli, Switzerland--
About the Publisher

Steve Davis helps facilitators, coaches, consultants and leaders who are struggling to present themselves confidently, empower their groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their businesses on and off line. Please email or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow the guidelines here. Thanks for reading!
In the Spotlight

Teleclass for facilitators and change agents.

Discrete skills and attitudes for the new and experienced facilitator who wants to get their group into serious motion.

Not only did we learn about the techniques, but Steve modeled great facilitation so we could experience it first-hand. Steve brought out the knowledge and participation of everyone in the class to make it a richer experience. I highly recommend Random Acts of Facilitation for even a seasoned facilitator. -- Karen Van Cleve, President, Live Well Coaching. --

Random Acts of Facilitation, 5-Day Teleclass

This class will meet over a telephone bridge line for five consecutive weekdays January 19-23, 2004 at 10:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM EST (NY Time) to cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course, that you can take from the comfort of your own home or office, is for beginning facilitators, group leaders, or group members who simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make their groups more effective. These "discrete" acts of facilitation also lend themselves to being taught to your group members who desire to become more self-facilitative.

How the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri) for a 60-minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. You work a 25-point checklist during the 5 days (about an hour a day of study and field work) which you complete by Friday afternoon, or sooner if you wish.
3. You will have the opportunity to discuss issues on the subject matter with the instructor and your classmates via an online discussion forum during the course.
4. During the week, you may access the instructor via email for help or situational questions.

5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the 5-Day course...

Introduction to the Facilitation and Self Facilitation Skills.

1. Create the Ambience.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
4. Juggling.
5. Me First.

Relating with compassion and understanding.

6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.

Group Dynamics and Facilitation

11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation

Organizing and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally, and authentically. 

17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message

Intervening to shift group energy

22. Tame the Tormentors.
23. CareFront.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path

Benefits to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training...
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator, team leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you come in contact with.
4. Learn skills to help groups make quantum leaps in their effectiveness.
5. Be a catalyst for positive change in your community.

Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also receive:
1. Comprehensive 15-page Student Learning Guide.
2. Free access to the participant-only website (lots of resources, forms, etc.).
3. Free access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training.
4. Free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).

The full cost of training/access is only $79 for MFJ readers ($89 for the general public) including a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.

January 19-23, 2004, 10:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM EST (NY Time), 60 minutes each day.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience excellent modeling of what good facilitation is, to sign up for this teleclass. --Elain Wylie, Life Coach--


Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free article bank. This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first served.

Click here to register now

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. (Why? Because we are sensitive to the fact that you are buying an e-course/product from us and we feel that if this package isn't EXACTLY what you expected or wanted, that you should be able to get 100% of your money back. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.)

Real Audio Testimonials
Click here for a one-minute audio testimonial from several participants on the final day of the teleclass.

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