Depending on the type of event you’re running, you and your co-designer(s) may have to do quite a bit of facilitation, or you may only do an introduction to the event and/or closing remarks. In either case, it’s important to be prepared! And be sure to orient participants to the schedule and flow of the event.
That said, here are some general tips for facilitation.
- Speak clearly, especially if some participants are not interacting in their native language.
- Make sure your body language is open and positive.
- Have participants introduce themselves, or introduce themselves to others nearby.
- Listen to participants! Appreciate their input.
- Set ground rules: how the session will be run, timings, any other expectations
- Use a timer or ask someone else to be time-keeper to ensure you stay on schedule
- Know your content. Prepare and practice/review your plan or presentation beforehand.
- When delivering, be confident — you’re well-prepared (see above).
- Encourage people to stop you if they get lost or need clarification while you are speaking
- Make time for questions and answers.
- Where there is more than one leader/facilitator, be sure each has an active role.
- Use small-group activities to get learners to try out new skills, talk, and connec.
- Get learners teaching: in mini-skill shares, feedback sessions, code reviews, etc
Be flexible, and be prepared for the unexpected. What will you do if far fewer-- or far more-- people show up for your event than expected? What will you do if your tech doesn’t work, if the wi-fi goes down? What will you do if you have a mixed group of beginners and advanced particIpants? Spend some time with your co-designer(s) brainstorming possible scenarios and sketching out how you might respond.
Your own facilitation tips, success stories, and learning moments from ill-fated facilitation experiences are welcome-- share them here.