Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0413, October 13, 2009

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I've written several articles over the years around the importance and use of experiential activities in training and facilitation. In this week's article, Effectively Debriefing Experiential Activities, we more deeply explore the debriefing of facilitated activities as I believe this phase of training and facilitation requires the most skill from the facilitator. For a brief overview of an experiential learning cycle, of which debriefing is one phase, refer to Skill 37.

Motivational Speakers: How Charismatic Delivery Can Short Change Your Audience". Join this experiential teleseminar on Thursday, October 14, 10:00am Pacific Time. In this concise, 90-minute module you'll have the opportunity to practice the 3 keys to empowering your audience with less effort as a speaker. You'll also get to experience our fully interactive teleconference bridge courtesy of MaestroConference, a new technology that allows you to engage me and other participants as if we're in a live workshop.
See details after the article.

This concise, one-hour module will offer you the opportunity to practice and learn the pitfalls and procedures for effectively setting up and facilitating one yourself. See full details after the article below.

Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop.
We'll be breaking the ice (literally) on our next Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop the week of January 11th in Madison Wisconsin...check out this opportunity to learn an Integrally Informed Approach to Facilitation and Leadership. Click here for details and registration. We find that a sufficiently large huddle at this workshop helps keep us all warm at this time of year in Madison!

I'm now a serious LinkedIn Networker!
I'm finally jumping on the bandwagon and diving into the social networking craze. I'm beginning to see the value in it, focusing primarily on LinkedIn for business purposes. If you are a serious open networker and would like to connect, please click here to join my network. Also, if you feel so inclined to leave a recommendation based on my work with this ezine and/or FacilitatorU, I would very much appreciate that!



motivational speakers
The Point

Effectively Debriefing Experiential Activities
Probe participants to facilitate maximal learning and progress

Group Process Skill

I've written several articles over the years around the importance and use of experiential activities in training and facilitation. This week, I'd like to more deeply explore the debriefing of facilitated activities as I believe this phase of training and facilitation requires the most skill from the facilitator. For a brief overview of an experiential learning cycle, of which debriefing is one phase, refer to Skill 37.

Why We Debrief. In general, effective debriefs have the following possible purposes:

1. To expand learning across a large group. In learning scenarios, large group processing by the facilitator often takes learning deeper for both the participant sharing and also for those in the large group who may resonate with the participant's experience.

2. To discover behavioral patterns. For the purposes of personal growth, often experiential activities will reveal effective and ineffective patterns of behavior. Helping participants become aware of these patterns in a non-threatening activity can help them shift them where they show up elsewhere in their lives.

3. To develop new strategies through feedback and coaching. During the debrief, the facilitator will at times play the role of coach. Through coaching the facilitator offers feedback to help expand personal awareness and facilitates commitment to new strategies aimed at shifting ineffective behaviors or to take advantage of existing strengths.

4. To gather input to take next steps. In large working groups, smaller subgroups can be used address segments of a problem or generate fresh ideas for a solution. During the debriefing phase we collect inputs from these subgroups to support the large group in moving forward.


How we debrief

1. Ask reflective questions.

These questions allow participants to look at the obvious things that came from the activity. Limit inputs based on available time.
For example, “I’d like to hear from two or three groups. Tell me what this activity brought up you...”
"What struck you about this activity?..."
"What worked, what didn’t?..."
"What conclusions can you draw based on your experience?..."
"Will you now do anything differently?..."

In the case of training activities, ask questions that prompt participants along the lines of your learning objectives. This keeps the discussion targeted and tight. For example, "What did your interaction in this activity tell you about how you respond to the unexpected?"

2. Facilitate the breadth and direction of discussion.

Seek to hear from several participants and keep discussion focused on learning or work objectives. Prevent the group from straying off on tangents that are not in line the group's overall goals. At the same time, if an interesting course of inquiry emerges that you didn't plan on, that has energy in the group and that does respond to the group's objectives, by all means, help the group follow that thread. This kind of inquiry that emerges based on the group's lived experience in the present moment is usually the most potent and powerful.

3. Observe and question undertones.

Deeper learning and awareness available to participants may require so reading between the lines are your part. Be sensitive to the emotional tone, verbal language and body language to get a sense for directions that might be prudent to explore. For example, "Bill, your responses seem tentative, is there something more you want to say?"

4. Probe for depth and generalize to life.

As the debrief unfolds around a staged activity, you may want to help participants generalize their personal or group discoveries to their everyday life. One of the benefits of running an experiential activity that evokes some degree of challenge and stress, is that participants' everyday patterns tend to emerge. If they are open to seeing, you can help participants become more aware of these patterns and of changes they may want to make that apply to their life and work.
For example, "John, you acknowledge in this activity that you held back even when you had a good solution for the group. Are there other times or places in your life where you do the same thing?...."
"Is this something you want to change and if so, what could you do differently?...."
"Is there some help you'd like from the group or others on this?..."

5. Be neutral in your inquiry and responses.

When we as facilitators see a certain behavior or an opportunity for someone to "get it", we have to be careful about our own personal agenda, judgments, and intentions around wanting people to grow and change. Every person will decide on their own if and when they want to see something they don't currently see, and act on it or not. Promptings to get something or do something before it is owned by participants becomes more about the facilitator than the participants.

We serve our groups best by inquiring innocently into all we see and helping them to see what they are willing to see on their own. Any input we have should be left for the end of the debrief after the group has dug as deep as they are willing to go and time allows.


How can you use these tips in your debriefs? Do you have any comments to make about the tips above or any to add based on your own experience? Please share them with me by replying to this email.

This Week's Offer

motivational speakersExperiential Module Course
From Charismatic to Catalytic

Motivational Speakers: Charismatic Delivery Can
Short Change Your Audience

At times the strengths of dynamic, high energy presenters can get in
the way of their group’s progress. Most audiences we address as
leaders have been conditioned to sit and listen to the teacher, leader,
or speaker in front of the room and view her as the expert or authority.
But this may not always serve the growth of your participants.

In this module, you'll learn 3 skills that you can use without surrendering your strengths as a presenter to empower your audience. I’ll also do my best to model being a listener as much as a speaker during this call, so that you are engaged and participating as much as I am.

What do you get? Here's what comes with the cost of this module:

- Active participation in the course above.
- Viewgraphs used during the presentation.
- An MP3 recording of the call.

Format. This course is conducted over a telephone bridge line and webinar platform. The webinar connection is optional as view graphs will be provided prior to the call that can be printed as a backup option.

When? This class will be held on Thursday, October 15th from 10am-11:30am Pacific (1pm Eastern).

Cost. The cost of the above course is $29. If you are a FaciliatorU member, the cost is $19. If you are a member, contact us for the coupon code if you haven't already received it.

Click below to register and full details for class participation will arrive in your inbox. Membership Option

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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. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.

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