A presentation by experts that encourages attendees to participate actively in order to gain actual practical experience, in solving befuddling work-related problems, is known as a facilitated workshop. Facilitated workshops are helpful in managing changes that are integral to the existence of an organization. They encourage participation by breaking down barriers and helping the organization achieve its goals. Facilitated workshops help by motivating employees, manager and others, who have a stake in the process, to communicate and interact effectively with each other. Workshop facilitation is the responsibility of the team leader, manager or expert who plays the role of a facilitator. Team-building workshops help foster a sense of belonging. The following workshop facilitation techniques are often used by facilitators in order to encourage group participation.
❒ Identifying Objectives
This is the most important part of workshop facilitation. It can yield the desired results, provided the facilitator has a clear idea about the intended outcome of the workshop.
❒ Being Flexible
It is necessary for the facilitator to be flexible regarding goals and the schedule. Being overambitious or time conscious should be avoided in order to achieve the best results.
❒ Playing Games
Games can liven the atmosphere, and help people get comfortable with each other. Games fire up the urge to participate. An interesting game that involves group participation, can be helpful in encouraging people to work with each other. For instance, Pictionary -- a game that involves interpreting what the other person intends to convey without resorting to verbal communication -- can help people understand how different people think. It can be a great icebreaker.
❒ Solving Complex Problems Part by Part
A workshop facilitator helps people solve complex problems by breaking down the problem into smaller problem units. Each problem unit then, can be assigned to different groups. Each group tackles its problem and arrives at the solution. Collectively, they solve the seemingly complicated problem.
❒ Identifying Dormant Participants
This is a very important part of the facilitator's job. The facilitator identifies dormant participants and encourages them to participate actively. Encouraging them to voice their opinion, while not seeming patronizing, can be quite a challenge. Uttering phrases like, "Good job!" or "Well done!", is what patronizing is all about. However, the motive of the workshop is to encourage participation, and this may be accomplished only, when motivational phrases are used. For instance, saying, "That's a valuable opinion! ... What do the others think about it?" would make the communication lucid and fluid.
❒ Using Visual Tools
Visual aids can also help people learn during facilitation. Just as a problem can be broken down into smaller units, one can simplify a problem by putting together smaller units. This is when visual tools can come in handy. Simple building blocks can help people build a problem and indicate offshoots or results of the problem. Flip charts, too, are good visual aids. Visualizing data, sometimes, can help figure out the solution.
❒ Facilitating Limited People
If there are fewer people participating in a workshop, every one gets a chance to participate. Moreover, dormant participants can be easily identified and encouraged to take part in group activities. In order to ensure maximum participation, the facilitator should limit the number of participants to 10.
❒ Facilitate Learning
Indeed, a very important role of a facilitator is to encourage the members of the workshop to share their views and opinions with each other. Sharing random experiences with group members facilitates learning and helps you bond better with each other.
❒ Encourage Healthy Discussion
Where there is learning involved , discussion is bound to be its precursor. Discussion brings along feedback. A facilitator must encourage the flow of constructive feedback and criticism. Questioning is a powerful tool; one must avoid misusing it. Posing relevant and thought-provoking questions, builds the discussion toward a positive outcome. However, there are times when discussions cross boundaries and transposes into arguments. Facilitators must assume responsibility, and resume control over the group to resolve the issues at hand with sapience and sincerity.
❒ Provide Feedback
While there are group members, who are all vocal and voluble about their views, there is another sector that is reticent enough to not voice their opinion on a given topic. It is the facilitator, who ought to uncover their reticence by encouraging and involving them in the discussion at hand. A positive feedback ups their confidence and invariably they realize that their response is valued and much appreciated.
Workshop facilitator job description includes self awareness as a prerequisite for the job. Being friendly, open, nonjudgmental and communicative, are also important qualities that a facilitator must possess. A training session conducted to sharpen the skills of facilitator will help identify and develop useful facilitation techniques.