Generating ideas and identifying
needs of a community is the first step in providing direction
for the development of relevant programs in a local community.
Most groups are able to produce lists of program possibilities
that go far beyond what a local staff is able to address. Priorities
must be set and decisions must be made in a manner that encourages
ideas and opinions from all group members and results in program
direction that represents the best decision for the citizens of
For a group to move through the
decision making process, members must be skilled in facilitating
discussion, generating ideas and setting priorities.
For additional background information
review the handouts, slide notes, lesson plan and instructor's
comments integrated into the lesson.
Ask participants to think about the BEST meeting they ever
attended. Have them picture in their mind the meeting room
arrangements, the atmosphere in the meeting, the total meeting
was that meeting like?" List the characteristics of
that meeting on the flip chart as participants call them out.
participants that good meetings aren't an accident. They are
the result of careful planning and an understanding of how
to create the positive, supportive environment that encourages
participation from every participant.
Explain the purpose of this session and that in the next hour
you will be covering the role of a facilitator/group leader,
what makes him or her effective, how facilitators/leaders
manage content and structure, and how you can set the
stage for an effective meeting through room arrangements,
controlling the meeting room environment and establishing
a good beginning.
the PowerPoint "Skilled Group Leader" slides 1-17
and the corresponding notes pages to guide the presentation.
- WHAT IS A FACILITATOR?
Facilitators provide the framework that allows
the collective wisdom of the group to emerge. In advisory
councils, this role is usually assumed by the leader
- a chair or president.
#1 - Title Slide
#2 - Read definition
#3 - Key Words Highlighted in Red - Discuss
key words and phrases in the definition. (See slide
- WHAT MAKES A FACILITATOR
Facilitators are flexible, have a sense of humor,
tolerate ambiguity, utilize active listening skills,
and are creative and intuitive.
SLIDE #4 - Characteristics
of an Effective Facilitator/Group Leader (Instructor
discusses each bullet. See slide notes.)
#5 - Characteristics of an Effective
Facilitator/Group Leader (continued) (See slide
- MANAGING STRUCTURE
VS. CONTENT - MAJOR TASKS OF
As leaders on the County Advisory Council, the
role of facilitator will often fall to you. Your task
is to manage the structure, ask questions, design
activities and respond neutrally you elicit contributions
from all members. The content, what happens as a result
of the structure, is the responsibility of the participants.
#6 - Structure
describes "how" the process works. (See
#7 - Content
describes "what" is shared. (See slide
- SETTING THE STAGE
The physical environment plays a major role in
determining the success of the meeting. Poor environments
create distractions and prevent the members from focusing
on the tasks at hand. Busy, often hectic, lifestyles
make it difficult for many participants to arrive
at meetings ready to get to work. The meeting environment
itself should not add to the problem. Rather, it should
be designed to create a pleasant atmosphere which
encourages creativity and enhances the work of the
Think about a room that is inviting and pleasant.
How would you describe that room? What are the
good points about this room? What are the negative?
(Participants will share
some of the following examples of "good points."
Negative will be the opposite. Add items if not
mentioned by group.)
- Chairs that
pictures on wall
- Tables to
- Good acoustics
- No noise
from heating/cooling system, street, rooms
next door or light fixtures
- Lights with
Instructor's Comments: Creating an environment
like this doesn't have to be expensive. However, it does
take a conscious effort.
#8 And Instructor's Comments - 3 Elements
in "Setting the Stage" (See slide notes.)
A. ELEMENT # 1: ROOM
physical arrangements of the meeting area play a major
role in communicating that active participation is encouraged
and expected. Room arrangement "determines"
the ease of interaction between the leader and group members,
and allows group members to interact with each other and
#9 - Room Arrangements
(See slide notes.)
- Distribute Handout: "ROOM
#10 - #15 - Diagram
For Each Style On Handout (See slide notes for each
slide to describe the specific room arrangement.)
Activity - Distribute "ROOM
ARRANGEMENTS CASE STUDIES"
Divide audience into
small groups of 4-6 persons. Assign each group one
situation from the handout. Give each group a sheet
of flip chart paper and markers. Ask them to discuss
major meeting room needs for their assigned situation
and draw the current meeting room with the best
arrangement for the meeting described. Each group
shares their diagram and the reasons for the arrangement.
B. ELEMENT # 2: MEETING
#16 - Meeting
Room Environment (See slide notes for each element.)
C. ELEMENT # 3: GOOD
Comments: As groups come together, there
is uncertainty and tension. Participants rarely know everyone
else in the group. They may doubt their own ability to
fully participate, feel inhibited by their lack of experience
and/or the reputation of others, and lack a clear understanding
of their role in the group. The following tools and activities
help to reduce the tension, increase the comfort level
and create a level field for all participants.
SLIDE #17 - Tools
and Elements of Good Beginnings (See slide notes.)
Comments - There
are many creative ways to provide for participant introductions.
Below are several ideas that are easy to use and achieve
Each individual introduces themselves to the group.
Ask participants to include information beyond their name.
Where they are from, their job, family information, who
they represent in this group, etc.
Introduce Someone Else in Group: Ask participants
to pair up with someone else and spend 3 - 5 minutes getting
to know the other person. Ask them to introduce each other
to the group.
Activities: Such activities as "Find someone
who…" or "Participant Bingo" can be developed
where phrases or boxes describe a characteristic. Participants
circulate around the room and have others sign their names
by the description that fits them, thus meeting other
participants. The group leader may ask each participant
to state their name and a characteristic that fits them.
Or the group leader may read a phrase and ask them who
Activity - Distribute
Handout: "PARTICIPANT BINGO"
Ask participants to
circulate and have other participants sign their name
in a square the represents a skill or characteristic
they have. After 10-12 minutes ask participants to
introduce someone who has signed each box. Make sure
each participant is introduced.
Comments - Introductions are very important
in getting groups off to a good start. As new members are
added, introduce them to the group and encourage participants
to get to know that person during breaks.
next time you are leading a group discussion practice the
characteristics of an effective facilitator: introduce everyone,
listen closely, ask quiet participants for their ideas, use
questions to clarify and draw out ideas.
to be a recorder for a group and use the tips on writing on
flip charts to gain practice and develop skills.
Observe the body-language of group members and leaders. Is
the message they are communicating intentional or unintentional?
Is it supportive of a positive group environment?
the next council meeting, assign a group to work with the
agent and chair in arranging the meeting room to support the
a group to develop a "get acquainted activity" for
a council meeting.
Donald and Martin, Charles L. Facilitation Skills for Team Leaders.
Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, Inc., 1993.
Sam. Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. Philadelphia,
PA: New Society Publishers, 1996.
Ava S. The Trainer's Guide to Running Effective Team Meetings.
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996.