THE ART OF FACILITATION

Introduction

A lot of the Human Capital programmes that we implement are dependent on Facilitation sessions. As demonstrated through years of excellence, EMZ Advisory prides itself on the art of Facilitation. I call it an art because it is a skill that can be refined, fine-tuned and when done right it can be a rewarding experience for the audience and the facilitator. It is a delicate maneuver between the two parties, with the facilitator as the lead and the audience taking center stage as both the supporting cast and primary beneficiary.

As a facilitator most things seemingly come naturally with continues practice. This article is not meant to be prescriptive because each project and audience is unique. What is shared are some practical insights that have served us well and enabled us to have a significant impact in various client spaces. The best way to describe Facilitation is through an orchestra analogy. The facilitator is the bandmaster, the conductor; and the audience is the orchestra, playing the tune of the flow of the session. Facilitation is the culmination of the beautiful sound that the bandmaster, conductor, enables the orchestra to make.


Preparation To Realise An Opportunity

The best place to start is to understand your audience, and of course this may appear obvious and simple. Yet, perhaps therein may be the reason why it is also easy to get this step wrong. Understanding your audience will mean understanding the brief. Within the brief, it is also helpful to understand “the how”. Is the message supposed to be delivered in a serious or energetic tone? A good facilitator ought to know what the underlying dynamics at play are, who is in which corner, if the room is divided, how the facilitator will help bridge unity or middle ground, how the audience will receive the message and contents, are there any triggers that one should stay away from, and when to slow down or pick up the pace? Likewise, what are the positive aspects that should be emphasised to energise the room? The facilitator should be tactful on how to use this to achieve the intended outcomes of the session. In summary, the bandmaster should anticipate what sound each instrument will make.

Preparation Meets Execution

Success is most likely realised when the session honours the original briefing script. However, it is also equally true that the best chance of success is based on the perceptiveness of the facilitator to read the room. The facilitator should know the script inside out, and outside in and vice-versa around 😊. This is because, chances are the script may have to change (through no fault of the facilitator) but rather because of new knowledge that may emerge. At EMZ Advisory we hold to the principle that a Facilitation is not about the facilitator, Facilitation is about the client fulfilling their objectives. Therefore, whilst guided by the will to proceed in an orderly fashion any given moment, a facilitator must be willing to suspend their direction to serve the needs of the client. A facilitator’s role is to ensure that the orchestra stands the best chance possible to make the best tune possible. Hence, the facilitator must be willing to do anything and everything to make this possible. This leads to the point that no one likes a rigid facilitator, facilitation is really about agility in action; all done with grace and enthusiasm, and confidence. It is important to note that this energy radiates, and the facilitator must also give the audience the confidence that they are a worthy collaborator. Understanding the ultimate goal with crystal clarity, the conductor should guide the band to a crescendo; indicating that shared objectives were met; and achieved through collaboration.

No one can whistle a symphony.
It takes a whole orchestra to play it.
H. E. Luccock

Engagement Manager
Sibusiso Sibisi
sibusiso@emzadvisory.com
063 704 8143

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