15 takeaways from Facilitation for All

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If you are looking for a shortcut, we’re compiled the most important takeaways in this overview. Enjoy! 😁

Phew, we’ve covered A LOT of ground! Well done! 🔥 We also acknowledge that the information and all the resources here can be overwhelming.

If you are looking for a shortcut, we’re compiled the most important takeaways in this overview. Enjoy! 😁

💡 Key takeaway #1: Know your audience

Knowing your audience will help you decide what to include in your design and what to leave out so that you can maximize the time spent together. By tailoring the content and activities to their needs, you’ll increase the likelihood that your audience will achieve the outcome they set out to get out of the session.

💡 Key takeaway #2: Start with your design, not the platform

Starting with the platform in mind will often limit your creativity regarding what’s possible. A best practice is to start with your audience's needs, session goals, and session design. Once you have that figured out, you can better understand how the tools you’ll pick can enable you to achieve the desired outcomes.

💡 Key takeaway #3: Start with a clear objective

Before you start designing your session, define your objective for the workshop, and your 2-3 desired outcomes. What do you want your participants to learn or achieve? Having a clear objective will help you design a structured agenda that meets your participants' needs. You can use the IDOARRT structure from Mischief Makers to identify your session intention, desired outcomes, agenda, rules, roles, responsibilities, and timing.

💡 Key takeaway #4: Select icebreakers that match your session goals

Choose icebreakers and energizers that match the goals and objectives of your workshop. Even better if you take the time to share with your participants why you’ve picked a certain icebreaker or energizer. For example, if you're running a workshop on team building, an activity that focuses on collaboration and communication would be a great fit. The best energizers are the ones that seamlessly flow into your session design as a segway into the topic or upcoming activity.

💡 Key takeaway #5: Be intentional about participant's onboarding

Participant onboarding is the process of preparing participants for a session or event. This process can include providing information about the session's objectives, content, structure, and any pre-work or materials required for the session. Participant onboarding is essential for clarifying expectations, reducing tools or process anxiety, saving time, and building relationships.

💡 Key takeaway #6: Before anything else, build rapport

Building rapport is the key to unlocking the full potential of the groups you are working with. By establishing trust and fostering open communication, you create a safe and inclusive space where participants feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. With rapport, you can encourage active participation, promote collaboration, and navigate conflicts effectively. The result? A dynamic and cohesive group that achieves meaningful outcomes.

💡 Key takeaway #7: Be mindful of the energy in the room

Interleave macro interactions like breakout conversations, virtual whiteboard activities, and main room debriefing with small interactions throughout the session: emoji reactions, soundboard, chat, interactive Flashcards, and polls. Small engagement hacks invite quick and easy interaction, while macro engagement hacks allow space for deeper conversations and spotlighting of participants’ individual contributions.

💡 Key takeaways #8: Keep your sessions on track

Before the workshop, create a well-structured agenda that outlines the timing for each activity, including breaks and transitions, and the time you need to explain each activity. Determine the most important topics or activities that need to be covered within the given time frame and allocate sufficient time for these essential elements.

💡 Key takeaway #9: Acknowledge and make room for strong emotions

When someone expresses strong emotions, the first step is to acknowledge their feelings. The worst thing you can do is pretend they don't happen or tell them to “calm down”. Sometimes, all you need to do is honor the emotion with attentive, respectful silence. The key is to allow space for that emotion in your session in a non-judgmental way.

💡 Key takeaway #10: Leverage the power of storytelling in your sessions

Storytelling has a unique ability to captivate and connect with audiences on an emotional level, making it an excellent tool for enhancing the effectiveness of your presentations and workshops. When you weave a compelling narrative, you create an immersive experience that captures attention, evokes empathy, and sparks the imagination. Us personal anecdotes, and compelling visuals and keep your slides clean and minimalistic.

💡 Key takeaway #11: Use inclusive conversation formats

Too often we design workshops for those of us that speak to think. As a facilitator, recognize and accommodate different communication styles and preferences, particularly for participants that think to speak. These alternatives can be engaging in written discussions, shared notes, polls, and silent reflection, alongside verbal discussions. Use breakout rooms or smaller group activities to create a more intimate and comfortable setting for those who prefer smaller interactions. A great best practice is to allow everyone 1-2 minutes of silent reflection around the prompt before you open the breakouts. This gives everyone the opportunity to gather their thoughts and form an opinion before the conversation starts.

💡 Key takeaway #12: Sprinkle fun, playfulness, and games into your design

A key element in gamification is voluntary participation. Use storytelling to craft an attractive invitation, and give participants the option to opt-in or out. Skilled facilitators frame games as experiments, or they open up an imaginary circle with different rules than our reality, where participants are invited to step in. Also, ensure the rules of the game are clear from the get-go. The limitations created by the game rules usually create a safer space, and set the behavioral expectations for participants, making it easier for them to opt-in, by knowing what's expected from them.

💡 Key takeaway #13: Connect the activities to real-life applications through debriefing

Transferring the learnings from a workshop or training session into a real-life context is a real challenge. That's why a good debriefing aims to help participants identify practical ways to integrate their learnings into their day-to-day work or personal lives. Facilitate concrete conversations on how the insights can be translated into actionable steps, individual or team goals, or changes in behavior or processes. By making the debriefing outcomes tangible and applicable, you enhance the practical value of the session.

💡 Key takeaway #14: Share a recap as a follow-up

Send a post-workshop email or communication that includes a recap of key concepts, activities, and takeaways from the workshop. This helps reinforce the learning and serves as a reminder of the content covered. Butter automatically creates a shareable recap page with the recording, chat, GIFs, session feedback, links and tools, an AI-generated summary, transcripts, shared notes and more. You also have the option to hide certain fields before sending the recap to your participants.

💡 Key takeaway #15: Never stop learning

There is no such thing as “done” when learning facilitation. We can always get better by honing this skill. More present. More creative. More daring. Reflecting on your online facilitation experience and setting goals for future workshops is a valuable practice for your professional growth.