Adam Willsmore, Service Design Officer, blogs about his experience of facilitation
If you’ve ever received an invitation to a facilitated workshop and thought “how do I get out of this?” then you’ve possibly experienced a (bad) manager standing at the front of a room talking for hours. Good facilitation, however, isn’t about a long presentation of information, it’s a process of bringing together a group of people to reach a decision or a solution to a problem. The word facilitate is defined in The Oxford English Dictionary as to make [an action or process] easy or easier, so as a participant in a workshop the activity shouldn’t feel too difficult.
When the SAAT Programme embarked on a series of major workshops to design its new services around the student experience, it sensibly began with training the team on the skill of facilitating. Excellent facilitators know how to plan a workshop to meet a clear objective, choosing from a range of tools and techniques to lead a group to the desired outcome(s). It’s these tools and techniques that give structure and purpose to an often otherwise chaotic or confusing meeting.
The two-day ‘Designing and Facilitating Workshops’ course guides participants through a five-step framework for designing and delivering any type of workshop or meeting. Through the use of a case study, there is plenty of time and opportunity to put the learning into practice including identifying and managing group dynamics as well as individual behaviors and strategies for dealing with them positively.
Find out more
So far we’ve trained over 30 members of staff in the skill and have recently established a network of facilitators across the university who are willing to offer their assistance to academic schools and professional services departments. If you think your team could benefit from help planning or delivering a facilitated workshop, please get in touch with SAAT or with the Organisational Development team.
If you are interested in training as a facilitator yourself, please let us know.