When I left corporate life five and a half years ago to embark on my journey of setting up a consultancy practice and becoming a consultant, there were many areas I was unfamiliar with.  Setting up a business, arranging invoicing, working with clients as well as other skills and practices critical to being a successful consultant.  There are still many areas I continue to learn and grow.

One of the most challenging areas which is the focus of this blog that has taken me some time to get confident in, is workshop facilitation.  That is, facilitating workshops for small or large groups ranging from strategic planning, business planning, development, commercial training, or other areas that we provide services to our clients.  I completely underestimated the amount of work involved in delivering and facilitating an outstanding workshop.

To explain this is more detail, I will break down in to sections what I now know you need to undertake pre, during and post workshops to be an effective facilitator.  These are essentially some of the elements to successful facilitation as I see it from my learnings, mistakes and experiences over the last five and a half years.  They are as follows:

  • Knowing the audience – ensuring your agenda, focus, language and style is tailored to meet their needs and requirements;
  • Pre-reading – ensuring you cater for the audience in terms of preferences for extroversion and introversion and also sensing and intuition types;
  • Workshop layout and design – ensuring the room layout, venue and facilities reflects the purpose and outcomes required from the workshop;
  • Developing clear and outcome driven agendas – ensuring that you reflect and prepare an agenda that is going to deliver the outcomes you intended;
  • Asking great questions – ensuring you listen more than you talk, remain objective and constructively challenge the group towards outcomes;
  • Workshop requirements – ensuring that you have checklists and processes in place to ensure the technology, materials and tools are readily available and functioning for the workshop;
  • Expectations – setting up ground rules and expectations from the start of the workshop to ensure that positive conflict is encouraged and discussion and debate ensues;
  • Facilitation – managing your nerves, participants and time by ensuring you are in the moment, focussed and have techniques to bring the workshop back on track; and
  • Follow up  ensuring the notes, outcomes, and outputs are documented and recorded with appropriate follow up to continue the momentum post a workshop.

I am sure there are many other areas that successful facilitation covers which I would encourage you to provide some feedback to us on.

The key point that I now appreciate that I didn’t before is all the work that is below the surface of a successful workshop that is critical for success.  This is critical for any consultant to learn given that a lot of the value we all deliver to our clients can be in the form of leading workshops, sessions, groups and stakeholders. It is a skill that I would encourage any consultant to continue to improve and grow.

easyconsult is delighted to announce that we have added a new module called Workshop Facilitation and Events to our programme where we have provided numerous tools, templates, webinars and videos to assist you to become a great facilitator.

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