Thursday, November 05, 2009

Facilitating as a team - few dos and don'ts


At last week's knowledge sharing event, my colleague Nadejda Loumbeva and I (@gaurisalokhe) facilitated a day of discussions and conversations using World Café, rotating Peer Assist and the ToP Workshop Method. Although we have facilitated together before, this was the first whole day event!

In this post, I would like to share a few tips with you based on my experience as a co-facilitator at a recent event.

1) Know your co-facilitator - like in any relationship, it is important to know the other person: how they think (in terms of facilitation - here!), if they are introvert/extrovert, what is their style, etc. This understanding helps you figure out who is going to be the "lead" the dance moves and where you may need to support the other person. For example, some facilitators are excellent with time management, some aren't! Know what the other person's strengths as well as their weaknesses.

2) Find someone who is slightly opposite of you. - This tip is actually not mine but that of one my facilitation teachers - Eunice Shankland. And, I agree with her completely! It is important, especially when facilitating events that span over a day or few, that the participants see two or more different types of personalities, methods and energy levels. You should complement each other and ensure that the participants are getting the right blend! It is also important that you find a co-facilitator when the event is longer than half-day to not only help the participants (by providing them variety) but also to rest yourself!

3) Prepare in advance who is going to do what! - Day before the event, I prepared a session by session breakdown of who was going to do what, what were the key focus areas for us to keep in mind for the event, which methods will be used (world café, etc.), etc. This step-by-step two-page itinerary helped us know when who was in-charge.

4) Improvise and support each other! - During the abovementioned event, we had a critical problem because the questions for the rotating peer assist were not formalized! The solution was that we sat with the group who were going to be peer assistees over lunch and ironed out the questions. Of course, in reality this should have been done during the preparatory phase of at least a week prior to the event, due to last minute volunteering from our side and everyone's busy schedules, we were not able to dedicate time to it.

5) Do an after action review. - At the end of any major facilitation event, I think there is lot to learn from what worked and what didn't go so well and needs to be worked on for future such events. Have a discussion on how it went and see how things that didn't go so well could be improved in the future.

In summary, although Nadejda and I had volunteered on our own free will to facilitate the event at the very last minute, the results of the after event participant survey rated facilitation as Good (46.7% ) and Excellent ( 43.3%). This is positive feedback that helps and encourages us to do even better next time! :)

What are some of your tips for co-facilitating events?

1 comment:

loumbeva said...

I completely agree with Gauri on all of the above. Reflecting on the event now that it's taken place, and more generally reflecting on various events Gauri and I have co-facilitated, one thing sticks out: Know your co-facilitator. It takes practice, but if you've found somebody the style of whom really complements yours, it is an easy swing, a dance, it is fun and really good learning!!