1. Essence | 2.
Frameworks | 3. Skills | 4.
Process ideas | 5. Resources
Process activities and ideas
processes and activities facilitators use need to:
consistent with their core values (eg. democratic participation,
the group work on what the group is trying to achieve in the group
two criteria can be used to evaluate the appropriateness of process
following examples highlight some participative and democratic activities
and activities to enable the group to take responsibility for its work.
people are seated makes a big impact on the interactions between
the people in a group.
seating should be flexible so it can easily be moved into different
configurations suitable for different processes, for example, facilitating
a group of 20 people could
start in a large circle with introductions, be reformed into four groups
of 5 for small group discussion and then reformed again into 6 groups
of 3 or 4 for some brain-storming.
there are more than 25 people a single circle is likely to become
too large to be useful. Sitting people in rows one behind the other
not conducive to building interactions between people in the group.
is often more useful to seat larger numbers of people in many
small groups. For example
it would be better to seat 50 people in 7 groups of 7 or 8 people rather
than keep one large circle or a smaller circle with two or three rows.
opportunities for people hearing each others experiences
it is useful for people to share their experiences. When there is more
than 8 or 9 people in a group there may not be sufficient talk
time for everyone.
following approach allows half the people to be talking and half listening
at any one time.
- Seat people in a circle.
pairs - identify everyone as an A or a B while going around the
circle (so that As and Bs are next to each other)
that in each pair person A will ask person B a question and person
B has 2 minutes to answer and Person A has 2 minutes to listen. Person
B will then ask person A the same question. Person A will then be given
2 minutes to answer.
- Explain that you will tell people what questions to ask and keep
the first question you will ask all the As to stand up and move around
one pair. You will then give them a second question. Repeat the
process for each subsequent question.
- All together there could be 5 or 6 questions and so 5 or 6 different
questions to ask are ones that focus on people's experience. For example
in a workshop with staff you might ask:
is the experience of your work like?
- What do you enjoy/ like about your work?
- What do you find difficult/stressful about your work?
- How do you find the balance between work and your personal life?
- What is the biggest challenge you face in your work and what do you
want to do about it?
In a workshop with a grandparents support group you might ask:
- What is your experience of being a grandparent like?
do you enjoy/like about being a grandparent?
- What do you find difficult or stressful about being a grandparent?
- What would help you in your role as a grandparent?
tell the story of the organisation/program
approach to telling the story of an organisation is to ask someone
who has been with the organisation for a number of years to tell the
story. This is often not helpful because it is one person's perspective.
better approach, especially at planning days is to:
everyone present to individually write a list of 6 to 10 significant
events in the life of the organisation over the past .... years.
people into small groups (eg of 5 or 6)
- in the small groups asked people to share their lists and discuss
what emerges (20 minutes)
- have a very large white board or large area of butchers paper available
- tell people you want to put the significant points up on the whiteboard
as a time line
people in the groups for the significant events - write them up
questions about any key area that seems to be missing (eg clients,
staffing, funding, ...)
the small groups to identify significant trends and observations
about the life of the organisation
feedback from the small groups and summarise the trends and observations.
whole process might take 45 to 90 minutes depending on the number of
people at the meeting.
the people in the group know what others are thinking and feeling
about the work at hand
an important part of facilitating a group is for the people in the
group to understand what the others in the group and thinking and/or
what they are feeling. This is especially important in setting priorities
and reaching consensus. One approach is:
each participant three pieces of coloured paper (about 8cm x 8cm
squares). A green piece, a red piece and a yellow piece.
them like traffic lights. Green = go/I agree; Red=stop/I disagree.
= caution/I'm not sure.
you want feedback from the group ask them: Do you agree that ................
Please indicate your response by holding up the appropriate
coloured paper so everyone can see.
The amount of colour in the room will give a quick indication of the
level of agreement or disagreement with the statement.
you want to explore the issue further, ask individuals: Why are you
green? Why are you red? Why are you yellow?
planning day agendas in plain english (not technical planning language).
Here is a sample
agenda for a planning day.
are many situations that facilitators can find difficult, for example:
who don't participate
who talk too much
who don't want to be there
who are aggressive towards others.
In dealing with these situations it is useful to:
- ask yourself what are the possible explanations for the 'difficult'
- develop a set of responses for dealing with the 'difficult' behaviour.
example if someone is talking too much, to the point of
talking over other people, what are the possible explanations?
the person especially excited or interested in the issue?
the person feel they have not been heard and so have to make
their point again and again?
the person not see/feel the cues from other people at the meeting
about their level of frustration at the meeting being dominated
person and so is oblivious to what is happening in the group?
you may not know what the explanation is but you need to respond to
the situation. It is useful to have a series of responses in mind,
you for your comment, can we hear from some of the others.
for the point you have made, I just want to check that everyone understood
your point (ask group). They understand what you are saying, now can
we hear from the next person.
have the impression that people in the group are feeling frustrated
because you keep interrupting what others are saying. I just want to
check out with them whether they are feeling that (ask group). They
are feeling frustrated with what is happening. Can you allow other
people to talk without interruption?
have the impression that people in the group are feeling that they
can't get on with their work in the group because of your interventions.
just want to
check out with them whether they are feeling that (ask group). They
are feeling that they can't get on with their work. If you continue
to interrupt I will have to ask the group whether they want you to
leave the meeting.
facilitator would start with the first response and possibly use it
or a similar intervention several times. If the interrupting behaviour
continues the facilitator can move to the
level of response.
If it continues further the facilitator can more to the next level of response