Tips for Facilitators 1. Set out the known rules – either by soliciting ideas for rules or providing them in advance. Some rules ought to be: a) respect everyone’s ideas. Even if an idea doesn’t sound good to you, allow it to be heard; b) don’t let any one person dominate. “I see that Jim has another idea, before we go to Jim, I’m curious what the rest of you might be thinking.” This at least provides permission to others to speak; c) one person speaks at a time. Let folks know that you will step in to enforce the rules and tell them how you plan to do it. 2. Be sure not to dominate the conversation. A good facilitator seeks input from all participants. One idea is to ask everyone to say their name and offer an opening thought about themselves. This provides an opportunity for everyone to be comfortable speaking. 3. Restate the charge. Periodically (and at the beginning, be sure that the group understands what you are trying to accomplish. Review your questions and be sure they are asked and answered. A good facilitated process might include posing the initial question and getting thoughts from all (going around the circle) then opening up discussion on the question. 4. Ensure that thoughts are understood and captured. A classic facilitator mistake is to capture the wrong idea. When an idea is offered, repeat the idea back to be sure it is captured. This also gives the scribe guidance as to what to put down on the large note pad (helps to glance over at the scribe to be sure they understand that is the thought to capture.) 5. Summarize the accomplishments periodically and at the end. This assists in both maintaining the direction and ensuring a sense of completion 6. Ensure that you have a sign up list for your group and contact information. Part of what we are trying to do is ensure that the feedback from members of the public assists us in the development of the future forum. The contact information allows us to get back to them in the future. 7. Try and identify those who might be interested in further and deeper involvement in the issue. There will clearly be some in your group who will offer a number of ideas and seem enthusiastic about the issue at hand. Encourage their future participation at the break or when the session is complete. Note their contact information, and pass it to the event organizer. 8. Be sure to end on time. A meeting needs to end on time so, about five minutes from the end, close up the process and, if time, get one closing thought from the participants. 9. Identify and positively engage those who seem negative. Often folks will feel frustrated with the “negative” voice in the small group. However, as a facilitator, you can harness this energy and turn it to your advantage. Pose questions back to those who have only “can’t do” attitudes. Ask: “what should we do?” 10. Above all, encourage positive outcomes. Nothing is undoable. We are facilitators, problem solvers. We must always remember that.
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