I have had the privilege of doing a lot of facilitation over what seems like many years now. I have facilitated small team meetings, large scale events, training programs, university courses, and even bicycle building (team building in disguise). Each facilitation requires something different, in terms of content, tone, pace, or energy but they all have something in common – the need for an effective approach that ensures the desired outcomes are achieved.
The Power of Effective Facilitation
Often individuals underestimate the power of effective facilitation, chalking bad meetings up to poor preparation, waning attention of participants, the wrong time of day (you got to hate those Friday afternoon meetings in the summer), or something else outside of their control. Certainly, these can all come into play, but a strong facilitator who knows their trade can overcome all such obstacles. Facilitation is a skill and it does require time and attention to hone, just like any other trade. However, there is one key learning that I would like to share with you and it is one of the most important things I have learned about facilitation. It is how to wear the crown. The facilitation crown that is.
What is a Facilitation Crown?
So what is a facilitation crown? No, it is not something you wear on your head or pass around the room to create excitement, it is an approach to your meeting that will add energy, engagement, and impact. The main principle of the facilitation crown is that each point or tip on the crown is maximum energy or interest from participants in your meeting. Each dip is the exact opposite. Your goal is to minimize the dips during your meeting.
Let’s look at an example. You enter the room and begin with the agenda and ground rules. Just entering the room and engaging participants in ground rules, starts to boost the energy in the room and you move up to the pinnacle of the crown. Next, you start with you content, and if your meetings are anything like the ones I used to attend, about seven to ten minutes later each participant is starting to droop, doze or dismiss. That energy that you created at the start is plummeting. You are entering the dip of the crown.
Re-engaging the Audience
So what can you do about it? You need to re-engage the audience. Ask them a question, put them to work in pairs, give them a topic to brainstorm, share a picture, basically anything. Anything that will get you moving back up to the pinnacle on the crown. The secret is not as much in the ‘what’ you do (though there are certainly best practices here) but it is recognizing the importance of changing it up every 7 to 10 minutes. The importance of shifting the focus or energy in the room through a new activity or interaction. The importance of wearing the facilitation crown.
Wearing the Facilitation Crown with Pride
If you wear the crown, you will make your meetings indefinitely more engaging and impactful and be well on your way to becoming an expert facilitator (or at least someone with envious energy and attendance in their meetings). So the next time you are hosting a meeting, get out your crown and wear it with pride.