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Facilitation Strategies

One of the things I really enjoy (when the opportunity arises) is talking shop with other training professionals as I am always eager to learn what is new and exciting in the world of facilitation, instructional design and eLearning. It was during one of these conversations recently that a fellow training professional that had been in training the past month, shared what we all agreed, was an excellent example of what not to do when leading a class.

To summarize her story, a student asked to be excused to use the facilities. The facilitator agreed on the condition the student stood up and told everyone what he had learned so far. This did not go well as the poor guy could not get anything out in between ducking rubber stress balls which for some reason, had been handed out earlier as part of an ice breaker. The facilitator actually blocked the door, waiting for the student to answer, until finally he (the student) gives up and makes a run for it.

I could go on with more examples that were shared by my peers but I am sure we all get the point…the class was a tire fire and an excellent reminder that there are, unfortunately, still some trainers out there that need to go back to school.

Thinking about that story also brings up another point, and that is what clues are there to help identify the good training professionals from those that are less than proficient? Understanding that like most professions, instructional designers and facilitators can come from all walks of life and experiences, there are key behaviors that I personally feel are an excellent indicator as to the quality of the training professional. Here then are few that I look for.

Organization—A training professional is on time, comes prepared, can adapt quickly and can deal with setbacks without unnecessary drama.

Creativity—A training professional offers solutions when others offer a problem. They are not shy to share an opinion and do not usually need to be encouraged to “think outside the box”. A training professional will smile when someone says we need to try something new.

Personable—A training professional gets along with their peers. They can easily carry on a conversation and are comfortable being called upon. A training professional can gauge body language effectively, react accordingly and avoids awkward or uncomfortable conversations.

Communication—A training professional has above average writing skills and can easily articulate a point. A training professional is an excellent listener and speaks in a clear and concise manner.

It is important to note that there are of course times when it is prudent to allow a designer or facilitator who has shown promise to work through the usual bumps in the road that can appear early in one’s career…. however, if you are ever in a classroom and a facilitator walks in carrying an arm load of rubber balls…. leave.

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