Our Master Facilitators have brought thousands of new solutions into the world and products & services to market. We’re happy to share the secrets of a great facilitator.

Self-Command Is the #1 Secret of an Expert Facilitator

The top secret of a gifted facilitator is self-command. This means two things… as a facilitator, we are always in complete control of our emotions and create a safe, neutral space. We ensure that everyone in the group feels supported and doesn’t become personally defensive. As soon as that happens, people shut down their creativity and willingness to participate. In practice, when there is a disagreeable idea, we don’t immediately point out what is wrong with it. Instead, we “praise first” and take nothing personally. Finally, we choose a measured response, regardless of the situation.

The Secret Is in “HOW” We Respond

Feeling is human. Reacting to our thoughts and feelings is human. We wouldn’t be ‘normal’ if people’s issues didn’t touch us. But what makes a great facilitator is a person who can control how they respond to people’s issues. Maybe you wanted to hear something juicier about how to make a great facilitator. For sure, there is more to explore and we’ll address these in later articles.

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Manage Your Thoughts and Feelings

When faced with a challenging participant, new facilitators often make mistakes. They lose their cool and respond aggressively. At New & Improved, we call this being triggered by our “Gator Brain.” In short, this is part of our brain that acts most like an alligator. Alligators have three responses: fight, flight or freeze. The “Gator Brain” kills new ideas by thinking of all the ways they won’t work.

The keys to controlling your Gator Brain are 1) recognize when you are allowing your Gator Brain to control your reactions and 2) consider how you can respond differently. For example, rather that criticizing an idea, open yourself to the possibility that the idea has merit and gather more information to better understand the idea.  A simple phrase to use is, “Tell me more.” Alternatively, you can use POINt, one of our favorite tools for evaluating ideas. These techniques are fool-proof ways to guide participants to be more careful with new ideas, give ideas time to develop, and show respect to their peers as they find ways to improve the ideas.

Watch this video to learn more:

Practice how to establish a productive environment

As facilitators we set the tone of the meeting. We must maintain a sense of decorum, confidence and goal-focus. We must keep people’s energy up. For example, we  stretch participant’s imagination with a variety of exercises. And when something irritates us, we don’t let our Gator Brain react.  If a facilitator loses command of their emotions, they will lose the group’s respect.

Improving your facilitation skills takes practice. Join us for our Innovation Facilitator Certification– you’ll have lots of opportunities to learn and practice the specialized tools, methodologies and skills necessary to lead a group through innovation meetings. Also, you’ll receive individual feedback to help fine-tune your style and increase your confidence.

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