Master Facilitator Journal


Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0377, Jan 20, 2009

Dear Friends,
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I take pause this morning as I write this issue of the MFJ. We just inaugurated the first minority President of the United States, with perhaps the most passionate majority mandate, in our history. While these times pose great challenges, I am grateful that there appears to be a significant concentration of energy behind this new leader. And while no man or woman personally can make the changes we need, the unifying commitment that seems to exist to an extent I've never experienced, has great potential to move us forward in remarkable ways.

As facilitators, we know the power and importance of "full participation." So today, as the U.S. unifies behind a higher ideal for a more hopeful future, we review the importance of this alignment in our groups in this week's article, Getting Full Participation.

Facilitating at a Distance. This 5-day teleclass teaches the Essentials of Teleclass & Virtual Meeting Facilitation. This class is for those of you wanting to offer a teleclass but don't feel you have all the skills and knowledge you need to do so, or for managers working with distributed teams that require you to facilitate virtual meetings. See details at the end of this issue.

We hope our work continues to bring inspiration to your world. Thank you for being a part of our growing community. Please continue to send the wonderful feedback.

Blessings,

Steve
Founder, FacilitatorU.com



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The Point

Getting Full Participation
Learn different strategies to engage participants in different ways.


Group Dynamics Skill


The importance of full group participation is often overlooked and undervalued, particularly by groups whose inordinate focus is on getting "results" at the expense of the process. Often, the damage done by this approach, in time, is what stimulates a group to seek expert facilitation. Continued inattention to process may lead to weakened or strained relationships between group members, decline in group effectiveness, decreasing buy-in and resultant support of decisions made by the group, reduction of group energy, synergy, and enthusiasm, and a real lack of enjoyment participating in the group.

Why is full participation important?

- To get larger buy-in from group members, which tends to make the execution of any solutions more long-lasting and efficient.

- To generate fewer opportunities for barriers to develop. Some content being held by silent group members can provide the missing piece necessary to free up a group that is stuck.

- To lower the tendency for a group to fall into group-think and resultant narrowing of perspectives and possibilities.

- To get access to the full wisdom and knowledge available to the group. Often, those who are the most quiet have the most to say, as they tend to be more observant and sometimes more objective about what's going on in a group.

- Collaboration requires full participation. Just as good democracy requires hearing many voices, group problem-solving, learning, visioning, decision-making, etc. is more effective with full participation.


Application

What is full participation and how do we facilitate it? To answer this question, it may be helpful to view participation from a holistic perspective that includes the physical, mental, and emotional dimensions as shown in the Venn diagram below.

Full participation diagram

Physical Facilitation
At the physical level it's important to provide various activities that engage participants so as to accommodate different learning styles and preferences, i.e. visual, aural, and kinesthetic Participants must be given the opportunity to participate in ways that work for them. For example, they may need time to share their observations and experiences, and possibly using different formats, i.e. verbal, small group, large group, journaling, drawing, etc. Finally, the environment should be physically comfortable and conducive to the kind of participation you're aiming for. For example, if you're planning to pair people up, a configuration of long meeting tables tightly arranged would probably not be appropriate. If you're aiming for lots of large group interactive discussion, you'd want to set up a circle or horseshoe arrangement of chairs instead of a classroom like setting.

Mental Facilitation
At the mental level it can be useful to present new information that has some relationship to what's already familiar to the group. Inviting participants to share where they already are is easy for them to do, and gives them a sense of their starting point. To insure higher levels of participation, you must also be the gatekeeper of boredom. Strive to make your activities and presentations interesting, compelling and provocative to stimulate people. Stay conscious of the level of energy and engagement in the room and change something if interest appears to be lacking. Again, it's also important to be aware of the differences between visual, aural, and kinesthetic (VAK) participants and use multiple modes of presentation to engage each of these senses. Just remember, keen interest equals active participation!

Emotional Facilitation

At the emotional level it's clear that people will participate only to the level they feel safe in doing so. Trust and safety have arguably the largest impact on the level of participation you can expect. Build trust gradually, interjecting increasingly risky activities as trust increases. Facilitating and managing an environment of mutual respect, acknowledgment, and validation in all interactions and intra-actions between yourself and all participants will foster a feeling of safely and maximize participation. Further, presenting material, exercises, and processes that are directly relevant to what the group is there to accomplish is critical to inspiring their involvement. If relevance is not apparent during initial phases of an activity, its objectives and purpose should be explained and agreed upon at the start to get buy-in from the group.


Action

What are some of the challenges you have to facilitating full participation in your groups? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please send us your stories, questions and comments.


This Week's Offer

teleclass facilitationFacilitating at a Distance Teleclass...
The Essentials of Teleclass & Virtual Meeting Facilitation

Virtual Meetings

Have you considered offering a teleclass as a more efficient way to deliver training, enhance group learning and generate more income for your business? 

Or, are you working with a distributed team that requires you to design and facilitate virtual meetings?

When done right, Teleclasses and Virtual Meetings (T/VM) are very effective and inexpensive ways to train, collaborate, and problem-solve. But if they aren't effectively facilitated, T/VM's can be a boring waste of time!

Remove the fear and uncertainty of teleclass/virtual meeting design and facilitation with this 5-day teleclass series: Leading at a Distance: The Essentials of Teleclass & Virtual Meeting Facilitation, led by Steve Davis, Founder of FacilitatorU.com,
February 9th-13th, 2009, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern (NY Time),
60 minutes each day.


This class covers all the elements of T/VM facilitation using a simple, well-organized, and proven approach. This course, that you can take from the comfort of your own home or office, is for facilitators, trainers, coaches, who want to design relevant, engaging, experiential workshops for groups using a simple, proven formula that's easy to apply to any workshop topic.

Learn how to design and run a T/VM that will maximize the use of your group's time and energy. By the end of the 5 days, you will:

  • Have learned the key skills needed to effectively facilitate a Teleclass/Virtual Meeting.
  • Know how to balance interactivity with meeting purpose.  
  • Have a an experience of the 10 modes of delivering learning and information in a virtual environment.
  • Know mistakes to avoid when facilitating your T/VM.
  • Learn the 7 Keys to the Inner Game of T/VM Facilitation.
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