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What Is Facilitation?


Coworkers sitting around conference table with a facilitator leading

Facilitation Can Make a Meeting More Effective

Klaus Vedvelt/Iconica/Getty Images


Facilitation is a process that trainers, team builders, meeting leaders, managers, and communicators use to add content, process, and structure to meet the needs of an individual, group or team. Facilitation is provided by a person, called a facilitator, who leads pairs or groups to obtain knowledge and information, work collaboratively, and accomplish their objectives.

Group Facilitation

Facilitation for groups or teams is provided by internal or external people who are skilled in:

  • Presenting content and information,

  • Designing and formulating a process that helps a group achieve its objectives,

  • Providing an appropriate structure to a meeting, training or team building session, or other work event, so that the mission of the group is accomplished in the session,

  • Promoting shared responsibility for the outcome of the meeting, and,

  • Drawing forth from participants the answers to their questions, necessary decisions, and solutions to problems.

Individual Facilitation

With similar objectives to those listed for group facilitation, facilitation for individuals is most frequently provided when two or more employees are experiencing conflict, disagreement, a need to set mutual goals, or the desire to debrief a project, process, or experience.

A skilled facilitator can provide the structure, content and process needed by the individual employees to reach a mutually satisfying solution to their issues.

Characteristics of Individuals Who Provide Facilitation

Facilitation is a learned skill that comes most comfortably to individuals who demonstrate characteristics such as:

  • Strong group leadership skills,

  • Deep knowledge about group processes and structures,

  • Knowledge of group and interpersonal dynamics and an understanding of verbal and nonverbal communication,

  • The ability to creatively and participatively present training and team building content,

  • Empathy for people and their situations,

  • Powerful listening and communication skills, and

  • The ability to structure group interventions and events to produce the desired results for the group.

Facilitation Summary

Facilitation is a powerful tool that is used to help individuals and groups more effectively and efficiently achieve their purpose. Under the leadership of a skilled facilitator (one who provides facilitation services), meetings, team building sessions, and training classes achieve results not possible without facilitation. Left to their own devices, group and team participants often lack the skills, permission, and support needed to effectively facilitate their own work processes.

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