The Number One Facilitation Skill that Will Make all the Difference

WORKSHOP, FACILITATION, KNOWIT UPPSALA

Rose-Marie Åberg
06.12.2019

As a facilitator your job is to make it easy for a specific group to reach a specific target. In this challenge you need a wide range of skills and techniques to succeed. A facilitation session will challenge your ability to be constant aware of team dynamics, your active listening skills and ability to ask the right questions to help the group move forward. Among many other techniques it will also challenge your capability to be quick on your feet and handle situations that will risk having a negative impact on the end-result. There are many things to be aware of as a facilitator.

But there is one skill that according to studies are the number one separator between a good facilitation session and a great one. It is the skill that will have the most impact on the group and the outcome of the meeting. A skill that I believe very few of us spend any time reflecting on or preparing for. Energy. The energy level of the facilitator.

Surprised? At least I was. But it makes sense and here are the arguments as of why:

  • The energy level of the facilitator rubs off on the topic of the session. Hence if the energy level of the facilitator is high the energy level of the topic will be perceived as high. It elevates the topic and makes it more interesting. You might have been to a conference or a lecture were you from start weren’t very interested in the topic, but the speaker was so good that you got sucked in and suddenly, the topic was super exciting. Recognize this? Then I am sure that you have experienced the opposite as well. Where a session that you really looked forward to turned out to be extremely dull due to the speaker. If you think back to these experiences, I am pretty sure that the energy level between these two speakers differed a lot.

 

  • Secondly, the energy level of the facilitator does not only rub off on the subject it also rubs off on the participants making them more engaged. This is valuable because a group that are engaged will be more likely to participate in an active way. They will share ideas and thoughts, have deeper discussions and to a greater extent contribute to the goal of the session.

 

  • The third argument, which is the true reason to why energy is so important for a facilitator, is that facilitators with a high energy level are perceived as self-confident. They are perceived as someone who knows what they are doing. Basically, you trust them. And people you trust you also tend to believe in and follow.

The kicker is that if high energy makes you appear as self-confident and trustworthy low energy will do the exact opposite. It will make you appear as someone who is uncomfortable, someone who is on unfamiliar territory and that does not know what they are doing, even if you do know it. The participants will start to wonder if you are the right person to lead them, why are we even doing this, wouldn’t it be better if, shouldn’t we do it this way instead. All in all, they will start to question you and no matter if it is out loud or in their thoughts it results in the same thing: they spend time on other things than contributing to the goal of the session.

These are the reasons for why energy is so crucial when it comes to facilitation. It is by no means the only skill you need to be successful but keeping a high energy level will boost and elevate your session. Important to note is that a high energy level is not the same as being unserious or silly. That could very well result in the opposite effect. The energy level is in the way you speak, the tone of voice you use, the words you emphasize and the way you move and gesture.

So next time you are about to facilitate a session be aware of your energy level and set it high from the start because it will naturally drop during the session, which is when you need to bring it back up again.

Good luck!