When speaking with my friend and colleague Amber Beckett @TheHelloCode about facilitation, Amber shared with me two mistakes facilitators who have the basics down often make in facilitation.
What she shared hit home. As soon as I learned that I’d made one of the mistakes before, I understood the ramifications from both sides, as both facilitator and participant.
I’ve given intentional design in facilitation a lot of thought as a facilitator, and also as someone who’s attended a lot of (usually personal development-oriented) events.
Many events don’t feel safe for sensitives and non-extroverts
I’m picky about the types of events I attend. Many are designed for extroverts. More than that, many event experiences don’t feel safe, especially for those who are highly sensitive, socially anxious, neurodivergent, become nonverbal under pressure, or simply need more quiet processing time. So it’s very important to me to create spaces that do feel safe for these sorts of people.
I believe intentional design is important, and can be difficult to do.
Even attempts to allow for choice can easily become uncomfortable unspoken expectations. Part of that is knowing as a facilitator how things land for your audience. It’s similar to writing where it’s hard for the writer to fully understand the reader’s experience because you’re so close to the words!
Careful thought creates magic
It’s one thing to toss a word like “safe” around, and another to actually put the time and effort into making conscious choices around facilitation that go beyond what you might have been taught or experienced. Structuring an event can seem pretty basic and straightforward, but careful thought creates magic. Which makes it feel even better to all involved.
It’s okay to make mistakes, and more important to learn from them.
Two facilitation don’t-do’s I learned from Amber
- Don’t wait for people to arrive.
It’s disrespectful for people who are there on time. This also perpetuates lateness by making it okay for people to be late.
- Don’t layer in lots of engagement for engagement’s sake.
Like asking participants to put a number 1-5 in the chat in response to a question you don’t care about the answer to. Engagement should affect the outcome of meeting.
Amber’s work is around conversation as a form of activism and helping to democratize conversation. I’m looking forward to learning what to do instead of making these mistakes.
She’s offering a 3 day workshop development series at the end of this year. Learn about it here.