Just promoted to a sales manager role or hope to be one? Improve Your Facilitation Skills and Improve Your Career.
If you’re having trouble facilitating meetings or seminars, the problem might be what you learned in school about teaching or presentation.
Teacher at Center
In school, your teachers took a teacher-centered approach. They stood in front of the class. The class was passive, listening to the teacher and taking notes, and sometimes – but only occasionally – allowed to raise a hand to participate.
But this is the direct opposite of what’s effective. In a business setting, the facilitator is not a teacher or presenter. You shouldn’t be up in front doing all of the talking. Rather, it should be a interactive environment with short segments of presentation followed by discussion and activities where your audience “does the work.”
Preparation vs. Spontaneity
A good teacher or presenter is well-organized. In a TED Talk or other good seminar format, there isn’t much improvisation. The presenter has the presentation planned down to the last minute and there’s little if any spontaneity.
A good facilitator prepares, but is also flexible, leaving themselves open to ideas as they come along. Because the session is interactive and the participants play such a large role in it, the facilitator needs to be able to make small adjustments to accommodate changes in direction and offer value to participants.
Your Role as Facilitator
In a school setting, the teacher is the bearer of knowledge and imparts this knowledge to students. Their role is as the elder or the expert. The student is a blank slate who comes into the classroom to receive this knowledge.
As a facilitator, you have a completely different role. Your session participants come to you with specific problems and expectations. They want to walk out of the session not only with new knowledge, but already on their way to using it to solve their problems. Rather than transmitting your knowledge to your participants, you are there to get them started on the path to using that knowledge for themselves.
As part of this role, you are going to be taking more questions and comments from participants than a teacher would in a school session.
So, the first step in learning good facilitation skills is to unlearn what you learned at school. If your facilitation is suffering, use the skills and techniques we suggested to make instant improvements in your sessions.
In tomorrow’s post I will share a good way to improve meetings, building off the ideas above.