Great Facilitators – 5 Key Differences

A “newbie” HR person called me in a panic last week. Without any prior experience, Suzanne had been asked to facilitate a series of leadership development workshops. She anxiously asked me for some insights about what makes a great facilitator.

Great facilitators create an inspiring, encouraging learning environment where learners are engaged, ask provocative questions and make perceptive connections to their workplace.

From my own experience coaching facilitators and trainers in dozens of organizations, here’s what I’ve learned.

All facilitators must be able to:

  • Present models and concepts clearly and concisely
  • Ask challenging questions to facilitate discussions
  • Use an appropriate pace for the needs of the group
  • Draw on learners’ experiences and knowledge to make connections
  • Ensure there are plenty of opportunities to practice the skills being taught

What makes a facilitator great? 5 Key Differences. They:

  1. Have personal experience and deep knowledge in the subject matter, e.g. coaching skills, presentation skills, motivating a team, etc.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the organization and the learners’ roles
  3. Use stimulating, relevant story-telling, anecdotes and examples
  4. Make effective bridges and transitions between concepts
  5. Adapt to learners’ needs and learning styles

The next time you have an opportunity to observe a facilitator, ask yourself: Are the learners engaged? Using this blog as a checklist, what contributed or detracted from the learners’ experience?

If you would like a free copy of our complete Train-the-Trainer Checklist, or would like to learn more about our train-the-trainer services, please contact me, Joan Hill. Thank you!