There are many facets to great facilitators. But the main commonality is they never stop developing their craft.
If you are looking to go from being a good facilitator to a great facilitator with a style authentic to who you are and what you believe in, the High 5 Training Team has some tips for you!
1. Watch other facilitators at work. Observe the group behavior and reactions. Are they engaged? Is anyone disengaged? How do they create buy-in and inclusivity in ways that are barely detectable? Do they use language that empowers and is strength-based? Make note of what works and what flops.
2. Take a good look at how you use humor. Do you use it in a way that is engaging or in a way that shuts people down? Beware of sarcasm. Sarcasm is generally only funny to a small percentage of your group and is frequently regarded as a cloak for the insecure.
3. Practice silence. Watch facilitators you admire and see how long they remain silent after giving instruction, asking if there are questions or asking for feedback.
If you are talking more than 40% of the time in your program, you are probably talking too much. Start practicing staying quiet with family and friends. See how much more you learn and observe!
4. Become Comfortable with Metaphors. Start out by taking some of the traditional or classic adventure games and incorporating metaphors that speak to the nuances, community or culture of your group. Pay attention to how other more experience facilitators incorporate metaphor into their programs.
5. Maintain a Solid Foundation. While a lot of new and shiny ideas come and go, the best facilitators aren't afraid to try new things, but they always have a solid foundation upon which they can rely. Sometimes the most traditional, tried and true activities and methods are the ones that have the most meaning for the group.
6. Over Prepare While Remaining Flexible. If you are over prepared for each program, you will never be at a loss or fumbling when the unexpected crops up. However, the great facilitators are also flexible, skillfully going where the group takes them.
7. Create a Community of Practice. Seek out other facilitators who are also interested in continual growth and development. Get together on line and share stories, ideas, resources and key learning. Take turns watching videos of each person facilitating. And practice giving and receiving feedback at the end of each call.
8. Document. Keep a reflection journal of your facilitation experiences. Make notes of what went well, what was challenging and what you'd do differently. Use this as your "go to" resource when creating programs.
9. Read and Watch. There are great books and resources available to help you develop your craft. Some High 5 favorite books: Islands of Healing, A Guide to Adventure Based Counseling by Schoel, Prouty and Radcliffe; Open to Outcome, Journey towards the Caring Classroom; Frank, The Processing Pinnacle; Simpson, Teachable Moments; Cain, Cummings, Stanchfield, Happiness Hypothesis; Haight, Teaching with Love and Logic; Fay & Fink. Some High 5 Favorite TedTalks: Brene Brown, Jane McGonigal, Shawn Achor, Derek Sivers, and Seth Godin.
10. Participate in Professional Groups. Some of the groups that provide educational opportunities for facilitators include: AEE, ACA and ACCT. Presenting is another great way to polish your skills. Start with some of the smaller regional conferences.
11. Never Stop Growing. The best of the best understand there is always room for growth. They are constantly reading, observing, practicing, taking workshops and trying out new ideas.