In our many years of offering onsite as well as virtual facilitation training, we have developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the skills and traits that several successful facilitators share. Below are five of these vital characteristics that make an effective facilitator.

Come Prepared

Find out as much as you can about the company – its history, the products and services they offer, the major personalities that shape its direction, etc. You can research them independently as well as talk to the person who is bringing you in to facilitate.

Based on the information you find, generate interesting ideas and come up with topics that will stimulate the group and keep discussions active and on target. Preparation is vital for any successful facilitation.

Define the Meeting Structure

Establish a group consensus from the very beginning, so all participants are clear on the outcome or goal of the session. Keep discussions stimulating but on track in terms of both time and topic. Toss out insightful questions to engage your participants and to elicit their thoughts and ideas on the subject matter.

Involve Everyone

Make sure all participants are actively involved and engaged throughout the meeting, and do not let one personality or side issue dominate the session. It is part of the facilitator’s responsibility to guide and motivate participants as well as to build bridges and connections so a group consensus can be reached at the end of the session.

Summarize and State Future Steps

Through active listening and feedback, an effective facilitator summarizes the outcome of the process and provides well thought-out action steps for the group to take after the meeting. Make sure participants come away with a way to measure the successful accomplishment of these action steps.

Be a Good Listener

Keep in mind that it is the facilitator’s job to ensure that the group reaches a consensus they fully accept as their own. This is the only way that they will continue to work toward the goals that were set at the beginning of the session. A good facilitator listens to what is being said as well as to what is not articulated but nevertheless revealed through body language, side glances, and yes, even silence.

Whether you need assistance in facilitating meetings or are interested in taking any of our facilitation training courses, call us. As experts in the exciting field of facilitation, we are here to equip you with the skills you need to become a more effective leader in your industry. We also offer professional facilitator training for those who wish to carve a career for themselves in this dynamic and challenging field.