Strategies to Develop and Support Facilitators

Organizations today need to do more at a faster pace and support employees across various geographies. Training delivery teams are faced with the daunting task of balancing the deployment of virtual instructor-led sessions (webinars), eLearning, and traditional classroom instructor-led programs. One key area that training leaders and teams often overlook while juggling these facilitation needs is how to set up their facilitators to successfully keep learners engaged.

Every public speaker, professional facilitator, and presenter knows that various factors must be balanced to make or break engagement, such as accurate materials, logistics, attendee headcount, preparation, venue, and even being ready for challenging participants or unexpected issues. But even with all of these variables, there are ways for leaders to help ease the transition to the next training program while also developing their facilitators.

Promote Ongoing Delivery Observations

Facilitators benefit tremendously when they hear from you firsthand. They need insight on their presence, learner engagement, areas of strength, and areas of improvement. Balanced feedback is always helpful in continuous development and serves as an extra push for facilitators to prepare for the engagement.

Plan to observe your facilitators’ classes one to three times a month and be prepared to provide actionable and structured feedback. Create a general observation form to capture delivery of content, facilitator skills, strengths, and areas of development. The frequency of feedback will not only help develop facilitators and help them incorporate feedback; it also allows delivery leaders to make decisions about future training based on observed strengths and development areas of their staff.

Require Facilitation Skills Refreshers 

Facilitation skills workshops allow delivery teams to expand their awareness of participant needs, learning styles, and presentation skills, and give facilitators an opportunity to apply at least one new skill to practice. The needs of the business do not always allow facilitators to dedicate two days to a refresher; however, it is imperative that these skills are developed and refreshed regularly.

  • Run refresher sessions when there is a significant shift in learning format delivery. For example, if virtual delivery has been heavy but there is a new organizational demand for classroom delivery, schedule a refresher of classroom delivery.
  • Identify employees with strong facilitation skills to run refresher sessions during team meetings, or schedule a dedicated time.
  • Incorporate facilitation skills activities during in-person meetings.
  • As leaders within all train-the-trainers and certifications, evaluate trainers on content and facilitation skills.

Set the Expectation of Practice, Practice, Practice!

Every professional facilitator and speaker knows the true value of rehearsing a presentation multiple times to ensure comfort with the content, physical delivery, learner engagement, creation of probing and follow-up questions, flow, and most importantly, how to leverage the resources needed during delivery. The only way to accomplish this is through rehearsal. Encourage all facilitators to practice their entire program at least twice—not only reading and reviewing the facilitator guides and materials, but literally practicing the delivery. Here are some tips:

  • Deliver the program in front of friends, family members, colleagues, or even a mirror at least two times and take notes along the way. It is much easier to practice in front of a friendly audience than a brand new one. Solicit feedback from your audience and incorporate accordingly
  • Another option if you lack a live audience is to record yourself and play it back to evaluate yourself. Listen to what you are saying and doing so you can make improvements.
  • Practice using all of your tools available such as PowerPoints, facilitator guides, participant guides, instruction manuals, rules of engagement, job aids, etc. You should be knowledgeable about anything the participant will have in hand.
  • Complete all activities as a learner. This will help you become more familiar with the answers you’re seeking and will uncover other potential questions, answers, and concerns.
  • If using a script or facilitator guide, you should practice how to refer back to the materials without solely reading from them. Be prepared with examples on how to further explain content.

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