Here are my top tips on how to go from facilitator zero to hero

Last week I traveled to one of my favorite cities in the world, Paris. It was a short visit. One moment I was sunning myself in the shade of Saint-Augustin church near the small but mighty statue of Joan of Arc as I sat outside a bistro enjoying a steak onglet with Roquefort sauce. The next moment I was working with a team of executives who had committed to delivering an upcoming workshop on change management.

Her role was to help them become more effective facilitators so that, in turn, they could encourage their teams to understand, embrace, and amplify transformation.

And now, to help you the next time you’re asked to moderate, here are some top tips:

Adjust the energy in the room
Learning and development experts speak of “reducing the friction” in a commitment. In other words, how do you reduce resistance to the information you’re about to share? As a moderator, you have the power to lift or weaken the atmosphere of the occasion. Your participants measure their enthusiasm for the topic. If you don’t bring passion, how are you supposed to get involved in the topic yourself?

Focus less on being informative and more on being transformative. The way you introduce yourself and show excitement about what they are about to learn or discuss can bring the whole event to a more positive and interesting place.

Understanding your role as a moderator is the first step to having an enjoyable and, dare I say, fun experience.

Volunteers and “Volunteers”

As the word “moderator” suggests, your role as leader of this engagement is to help initiate and moderate discussions among participants. If you give lectures or monologues, do not support.

You have probably tried pausing every few minutes on the topic you are teaching to ask someone to share their experience or interpretation of the topic. But what if the only answer you get is silence?

I like to let my listeners know right away that they are expected to engage. I explain that I will ask for volunteers, but have also taken the liberty of putting all the names in a hat and drawing a name at random if I don’t find a volunteer by three. As you can see from the subheading, I refer to these people as my “volunteers” and now, “volunteers.” This gets laughs (usually) and helps set the tone for a positive and upbeat event. Don’t underestimate this playful gesture and other gamification tools as powerful ways to increase and grow posts.

Don’t take a negative comment personally

Sometimes the issue can generate conflicting views or challenges, or even outright resistance. These are difficult but not impassable waters.

Try as best you can to resolve the disagreement or disagreement in a calm and reasonable manner. Don’t show personal insults.

When challenged, I often stop immediately and ask if anyone in the room has a different opinion.

Typically you will find some advocates for change in the room who can provide balance. And even if the conversation gets livelier, that’s okay. As long as it keeps going.

However, if you feel like a full-blown mutiny is on the horizon, I encourage you to pause and look for an earlier point of agreement or a foundational goal from which to begin rebuilding.

Support your co-moderators

As with any team presentation, a moderated event with multiple presenters must have an alliance. This means that when a colleague is speaking, the other presenters, even if they are not at the front of the room, must be supportive and engaged.

I encourage my clients to “turn on their presenter light” from the moment the first attendee is allowed to greet them until they have exited the building at the end of the event. Only when you are frustrated or tired do you let it show. Maintain your facilitator game face throughout the game.

Even during the coffee break or at lunch, your participants are still looking at you. Keep your awareness of facilitators sharp as you can still lead and lead in these moments to create positive outcomes.

This is an area that is often overlooked in many group dynamic situations and can mean the difference between a positive or negative outcome.

Remember, attendees are listening for signals about how they should feel about the topic you are facilitating. If you look checked out, frustrated, or annoyed, they’ll notice.

Start strong, end strong

The key to successful facilitation is a heightened awareness of your energy and the energy of those in the room. If the energy or positivity wanes, don’t let it fester.

Take a moment and let people stand up or shake things off. To tell a joke. But break the tension.

As with that famous statue in Paris, small tips can still pack a punch. And I’m sharing them because, unlike this heroine, I don’t want you to burn yourself as a presenter.

Top of the communicator hat

To one of my clients who added an important line to the end of her signature in emails:
“My working hours may differ from yours, so please do not feel obligated to reply outside of your normal working hours.” Here are my top tips on how to go from facilitator zero to hero

Fry Electronics Team

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