Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0510, October 18, 2011

View Steve Davis's profile on LinkedIn
facilitatoru blog
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.

Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop (JOFC). Our Winter session of the JOFC Workshop is now open for registration! We'll be meeting the week of January 9th in Madison Wisconsin. Come and experience a rare opportunity to learn an Integrally Informed Approach to Facilitative Leadership essential in grappling with the increasingly complex issues we face today in business, industry, government, and education. Click here for details and registration.

This experience has truly changed my life for the better, both professionally and personally. The Integral Model is such a valuable life tool. I only wish that I had been aware of the concepts much earlier in my life.
--JOFC Workshop Participant--

This Meeting Sux available for ebook readers. This Meeting Sux: 12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good is now available for the Kindle and other ebook readers. Click here for details.

If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an article for consideration, please email your ideas. I'd love to hear from you. We hope our work continues to bring inspiration to your world. Thank you for being a part of our growing community and please continue to send your wonderful feedback on this ezine and can better serve you.


Steve Davis


motivational speakers
teleclass facilitation
This Meeting Sux

The Point

Facilitating Mega-Groups

Facilitating large groups doesn't have to be overwhelming.

Self Mastery Skill

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

Add Your Comments


How will you incorporate these items into your planning for the facilitation of large groups? Have we missed anything? Just click on Add Your Comments to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.

This Week's Offer

**Fall Membership Discount **

FacilitatorU MembershipTo support the best efforts of people coming together toward collaborative, diplomatic resolutions, I'm offering a 30% discount on FacilitatorU Lifetime Memberships through this Friday . Go here to view the features of this offer and enter the coupon code "fall" to receive your discount.

What's FacilitatorU Membership do for you?

  • Save a significant amount of time, travel expenses, and training costs by tapping into all of our "just-in-time" training, tools, and resources from the comfort of your own home or office.
  • Access an increasing array of tools, training, and resources to support your work with groups.
  • Tap into a community of fellow facilitators, trainers, group leaders, and change agents for collaboration, learning, and support.
  • The wisdom and experience of a growing number of recordings of specialized experts in the field.
  • Use our articles to augment your training programs and group work.
  • Access a growing library of online tools, ebooks, and other resources to make your job easier.
  • Make yourself visible to others who visit this site looking for your talent.
  • Keep your skills up-to-date and your passion enlivened with regular contact with other change agents leading positive change and constructive action worldwide.
I've just come to the end of a series of workshops run over the last 8 weeks and wanted to thank you for all the guidance, education and support that you have provided via The workshops have been a resounding success, but that was due to the approach I learned from you about preparation; the confidence I gained from the teleclasses I attended and the regular reminders of the basic skills found in your weekly newsletter. It is clearly a winning combination. --Julia Amunwa, Programme Manager

Click Here to View Membership Features

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this product, 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.

Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal? Please do so freely as long as you follow these guidelines.

We grow by recommendation only when you find our material of use! If you enjoyed this issue, we'd love it if you'd spread the word. Click here to use our interactive form to tell your friends about MFJ, and as a thank you, you will receive our f$ree Facilitator's Self Assessment.


©2001-2013. Powered by, Madison, WI.. All Rights Reserved.