Article Highlights Importance of Facilitation Skills

Eddie Turner, Certified Speaking Professional™ and Leadership Strategies associate facilitator, recently published an article titled “Facilitate to Educate” in Speaker Magazine – the official publication of the National Speakers Association.

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When I hear the term “eloquence”, I don’t often associate it with facilitation. So, when I read Turner’s article and saw that he equates the use of facilitation skills to speaker eloquence, it got me thinking. What other terms do we typically associate with speaking, but rarely attribute to facilitation? The first that comes to mind is poise. Professional facilitators are practiced in maintaining their composure – even when challenged by individuals whose behavior can be disrupting to the group. For example, I recently attended a group meeting during which an attendee became frustrated with the topic being discussed. The facilitator expertly navigated the situation. First, he acknowledged and empathized with the attendee’s position. Then, he asked if it were possible to address the attendee’s concerns with the topic sometime in the future. Finally, he smoothly transitioned back to the topic while adding the attendee’s concern to the parking board. And he did it all while maintaining his composure!

RELATED: Why Use a Facilitator?

Another term typically associated with speakers that can be applied to facilitators is charisma. Although a keynote speaker may exude charisma while they are speaking, a professional facilitator must captivate and engage participants for the duration of a session. In some instances, this means holding the audience’s attention for days. For example, during the second part of a recent two-day training, it became apparent that the participants were losing energy and focus. Rather than continuing to move through the material, the facilitator stopped the class and announced a 15 minute break. Moreover, when the participants returned, she engaged them with a story and an activity that re-energized the room and ensured she had everyone’s attention.

The next time I hear a term associated with a speaker, I’m going to stop and think about how it likely also applies to a facilitator. “Facilitation is a skill and  an art.” writes Turner. Those are two terms I will always associate with facilitators. Now, I have a few more. 

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