Facilitation Notes

Introduction: The Facilitator’s Role

The facilitator is responsible for the process of the meeting — how the participants work together. The facilitator should encourage the participants to use the most effective methods for accomplishing their task in the shortest amount of time.


  • Set a positive tone for discussion
  • Remain neutral to the issues
  • Keep the group focused
  • Keep track of time
  • Suggest methods and procedures that can help the group work better
  • Encourage participation by everyone
  • Educate/inform participants about activities and steps
  • Protect ideas from challenge
  • Coordinate administrative details
  • Record information or supervise its recording

Preparing to Facilitate a Meeting

  • Select and prepare the questions you want to ask and write the selected questions on a pad of flip-chart paper. Create one agenda item per question, so you can easily focus the group on one question at a time.
  • Schedule the meeting and invite the participants, but do not include the questions you’ll be asking in the invitation.

During the Meeting

  • Welcome: Describe the purpose of the meeting and review the agenda together.
  • Sequential questioning: Explain that you will be presenting a series of questions and then selecting one person to respond to each one. Only the person responds at a time, but after you’ve finished discussing a question with the selected person, you may open the floor to anyone else who wants to add their thoughts.
  • Meeting closing: Share insights and decide how to communicate information.

After the Meeting

  • Make sure to discuss whether the information from this conversation should and will be shared.
  • Decide on how to communicate the information with the group, then follow up with participants.

Helpful Facilitation Techniques

  • Begin with an ice breaker. These should be engaging, short and relevant.
  • Have a group review. Discuss what goes well for the organization, what does not go well and what the organization should work on to improve.
  • Structure problem solving to define the issue, present the background, generate ideas and come to a resolution.

Action Planning

To execute a successful action plan, the facilitator must first help define:

  • “What” the action point is
  • “When” the action is to be scheduled and the estimated completion date
  • “Who” is assigned against the action
  • Progress against the action (leave blank initially)
  • To save time, it is often best to leave the assignment of action points to the end of the meeting/event

Rules for effective action planning include:

  • Do not nominate an individual for an action, unless he or she agrees to take it on
  • Describe actions in precise, clearly understood terminology and with an agreed deadline for completion
  • The team must agree that each action is worth doing
  • Progress must be tracked and reported on at each meeting or agreed interval


Brainstorming is ideal for generating many ideas within the group. For effective brainstorming sessions:

  • Ideas should flow freely
  • Aim for quantity, not quality of ideas
  • Try a round robin and have everyone go around and state his or her view on the subject.This aims to increase participation.
  • Record every idea clearly
  • Do not criticize or evaluate ideas in the session
  • Consider an independent facilitator to the group
  • If brainstorming is not working, try reverse brainstorming. This involves listing on a flip-chart what NOT to do, and developing solutions from there.

Flip-charts and Focus Sessions

Flip-charts allow for creativity and focus within a group during breakout sessions, but in order for a flip-chart session to run smoothly, the facilitator must:

  • Place the flip-chart at the front of the group
  • Ensure you have plenty of flipchart paper to hand
  • Stand to the side of the flipchart to ensure everyone can see
  • While standing to one side, practice writing on flip-chart. If you are right handed you may find standing to the left (facing the flip-chart) of the flip-chart easier
  • Write headings, where appropriate, onto the flip-chart to focus the group on the issue or question
  • Use clear, bold, large font – (“capitals only” helps some facilitators), to ensure the participants can read easily
  • Use different colors and bullet points when writing on the flip-chart. Remember that “red” and “green” are not helpful for group members who are color blind.

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