Consulting | Facilitation

Skilful facilitation ensures your results and increases participation

  • Are you looking for professional facilitators who can also cope with difficult situations?
  • Are you planning a large group event  inspiring with new ideas?
  • A clear workshop design will be the first crossover for a successful meeting.

As facilitation experts we support your workshop design and brief your internal facilitators no matter if there are discussion groups, meetings, conflict talks, project meetings, team workshops, creative circles or large group events. We also moderate your events – as you wish.

Facilitation needs process competence

Facilitators design, structure and control the communicative process due to high process competence. In addition to experience and knowledge of methods, this requires an understanding of group processes, social and communicative competence. Depending on the type and objective of facilitation, an understanding of content is also necessary.

Listening, summarizing, agreeing on results, facilitating the process, visualizing and having in mind the structure and time: these are the basic elements of a high qualified facilitation. However, the right facilitation design is also required. Which methods are chosen, how is interaction initiated, what has to run smoothly, what seriously and where has to be deepened? In the ongoing facilitation, a high sensitivity is needed to adjust flexibly to the group, to keep the tension in the group and to intervene at the right time.

Take advantage of our expertise in the development of high qualified facilitation designs and in facilitating itself of various event formats.

Facilitation provides orientation

Without a facilitator, there is no orientation for the people, for the content and for the process of the event. It is the facilitator’s task to provide orientation on the social-, content- and process level. First of all, it is about the processes and the contents. During the event it is all about people. In all cases, facilitation supports the needs of people in groups, especially on controversial topics or on a “journey into the unknown”: orientation.

Facilitation guarantees even more

Duration, number of participants, time planning, location and aims: these are the basics in the planning of a workshop. Leading the speech list, paying attention to times, summarizing: These are the classics of facilitation itself. But the substance of a truly professional facilitation is little more hidden: it is all about design, format determination, method selection, facilitator tasks, software support and much more. In the ‘flow consulting facilitation system’ we have summarized the comprehensive support services of a good facilitation. Even if this is not yet complete, it offers a good overview.

Consulting

We advise you in all phases of an event: How should the event be structured? Which aims are best achieved with which approach? How can results be consolidated? Some of our clients facilitat their events themselves. External consulting in advance helps to make the event more lively and effectively. Our train-the-trainer-programme at the flow academy also shows internal facilitators new capabilities.

Planning the facilitation

Bear in mind the detailed planning of facilitation it will often underestimated. How do you ensure transparency in advance and during preparation and how do you ensure a good conclusion? It is needed to be customized to the aims of the event and the expectations of the participants. In the practice of facilitation, aims and expectations are sometimes shifted during the event. A good facilitator is able to change the process at short notice. If nobody else has noticed that, then it was really professional.

Facilitation process

The most obvious for participants: A facilitator giving the word, visualizing, paying attention to time, asking questions, ensuring participation and so on. There are two reasons why this task is often delegated to an external person: Firstly, nobody is in a double role. On the other hand, professional facilitators usually have a larger repertoire of methods to fall back on, depending on the situation.

The purpose of the event

It makes a difference whether information is exchanged on a topic so that everyone is at the same level or whether binding decisions are made. The purpose of the event is the subject of preparation. In the course of the event, this purpose should be examined and, if necessary, transparently put up for discussion.

The format

Four participants – or four hundred? Live-events or video conference? Does the event last two hours or two days? Do you want to inform or involve the participants? At the beginning of the considerations there is but it should be possible to change it. Sometimes it makes sense to set regional events over half a day each instead of a planned major event over three days.

Use of software?

Digitalization does not stop at facilitation either. There are now many tools for structuring workshops, visualizing results or involving participants online. Voting tools are just one example of bringing digital momentum to an event. But such software offerings should not only serve to spread a contemporary digital image. The use of such software should also be beneficial in terms of content. And this is precisely why it is important to use software that is technically reliable and easy to use.

Visualization

It is common knowledge that a picture says more than a thousand words. Inappropriate images, on the other hand, not only say little, they also confuse. Good facilitators are able to translate content and structures into suitable images or symbols. They have the repertoire of possible visualizations in mind and then use a suitable sketch, drawing or chart according to the situation.

Material

Facilitation also involves being able to estimate quite reliably how much material is required: For example flip charts, pin boards, cards, pens. But even technical equipment: Beamer, white board, WiFi, tablets, smartphones, software. But only working digitally, e.g. with screens and power point presentations, is not the ideal solution either. In many cases, content or results should be kept permanently visible for everyone during the facilitation. Analogous application or procedure becomes indispensable.

What methods?

Methods are the tools of every facilitator, so the selection and use of methods is a core discipline. The more comprehensive the knowledge about methods, the more precisely and varied a workshop or event can be planned. With a large potpourri of different methods, a facilitator is able to respond calmly and appropriately to surprising situations.

Workshop or creative session?

In a workshop, basic methods such as card query or mind mapping can be used. Even innovative methods like Pinocchio or Silent Prioritisation can be useful: Have you ever evaluated ideas in a group without talking to each other?

As a rule, many ideas should be produced in creative sessions. First you have to decide whether it’s more about the quality or the quantity of the ideas. Does everyone want to produce “crazy” ideas in order to think ‘out-of-the-box’? Or should the ideas remain within a clear framework? Without a facilitator who pays attention to the right questions and safeguarding results, creative approaches quickly turn into arbitrariness or frustration.

Photo: flow consulting gmbh

The large group facilitation

At a certain size, discussions or the exchange of ideas no longer work. Other methods are needed: large group methods. Some of these interactive methods and formats are well known, for example ‘Open Space’, ‘World-Café’ or ‘Barcamps’. But not every open discussion is immediately an ‘Open Space’. Therefore, facilitation requires a good overview of the existing approaches as well as experience in structure, adaptability and micro-facilitation. The most important is the good preparation of such methods in their concrete application. The large group facilitation methods are an effective toolbox for events with numbers of participants in the four-digit range.