We have all been there, a workshop or seminar that we ate truly fascinated by the topic and happy to be there. At the front of the room is a talented and gifted program leader with great wisdom and content to share. Then it begins to fall apart.
The program does not start on time. When it does it does not seem to be really purposeful. The facilitator get in a fight with the easel trying to flip paper. The leader gives directions to an activity that has 15 steps you and the rest of the group are confused and no one does anything. Or the instructions are clear but they do not give you any time to actually do the activity or make sure that everyone gets a chance to participate. Or one of my favorites is sitting there watching them read from a manual, good god I can read!! The list goes on and on and on. Again the material is great, the facilitator is brilliant in their area of expertise but the experience is diminished by their lack of training and knowledge in designing and delivering small and large group facilitated experiences.
It really is a crime because it costs tremendously: it costs value for the participants, it costs credibility for the program leader, it costs money for the organization in terms of ongoing sales.
Facilitating skills are NOT that complex or difficult but there are not that many places to learn them from people with significant experience.
I have trained and supported hundreds of facilitators to design, market and deliver their own programs over the past 20 years and I want to share my top 3 training tips with you.
1) Do your own work! Do your own work! Did I mention do your own work? The number of times I have seen people present material that they were not completely grounded on personally is scary! Please note I have worked primarily in the personal transformation industry where this is even more significant than in other arenas but it is vital everywhere. You MUST live your content to the best of your abilities or don’t bother.
2) Be clear about your motive, yea, yea I know you want to save the world, help people less fortunate than you, of course. However until you tell yourself the truth about ego and attention needs you will have great difficulty succeeding. Here is a little secret. EVERY facilitator/program leader who has ever stood on a stage has high (some super high) attention needs. It is part if what attracts them to the business. Significance, attention, needing to be needed, love, adoration superiority again the list can go on and on. Please understand these are pretty basic human needs, having the needs are not the issue…pretending being at the front of the room is a selfless act is an issue of epic proportions.
3) Overlooking basic skills. Usually under the erroneous view of the material and message is so valuable that the details do not matter. That is not true! Hire someone who has experience get a mentor who has designed content get the basic skills handled for you and your clients. It is not hard you just need the support!
As I am writing this I am getting flashbacks to a variety of crazy things that I have seen novice facilitators do that caused programs to suffer and in some cases outright fail. Please do not be one of those, the truth is the world needs you and your gift, there is greater demand for adult education today than ever before. Do what it takes to support yourself to succeed.
My core company Personal Best Seminars has been providing transformational seminars including Facilitator Development for over 20 years, we have over 30,000 graduates who tell us regularly that our programs are the best organized and delivered that they have ever experienced.
Due to a ton of requests I have created an Accelerated Facilitator Training program that starts late May. If you are interested contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org