Unlocking the magic of facilitation:
Have you ever been in a training and marveled at how quickly the time flew by? Genuinely enjoyed a meeting you were expecting to dread? Learned something powerful about a topic you thought wouldn't engage you? Experienced an intimate, vulnerable, transformative moment with a group of total strangers?
Then you've witnessed the magic of facilitation.
Unlocking the Magic is a book I wrote with fellow social justice educator Sam Killermann to share with people the lessons we learned from our years of trial-by-fire facilitation education. This book pulls back the curtain to show you how good facilitation is done and to help you improve your own facilitation, in whatever setting that may be.
Quotes from the book
The 11 lessons
1. Understanding Facilitation as a Nuanced Skill.
Facilitation is…well…both nuanced and a skill: two things we don’t give it enough credit for being. In this chapter we’ll talk about why facilitation is a skill, who gets to identify as a facilitator, and the need to practice facilitation.
2. Facilitation vs. Teaching vs. Lecturing.
Facilitation is a different style of engagement from teaching or lecturing. What makes it different? Why is that difference so important? What are things that we are giving up and gaining by choosing to facilitate?
3. Being Neutral.
This chapter could also be called “Neutrality is non-existent” or “Neutrality: That would be nice, and so would Santa Claus.” Being a facilitator is not about being neutral, but instead about being honest and open with your group about your goals together, and recognizing the implicit bias in those goals.
4. How to Read a Group.
Start by listening. Get to know them before they get in the room as much as possible, and then pay attention to what they are expressing and sharing in order to know where to go next. Groups are writing a lot about what they need; you just need to start reading.
5. Both/And is Greater than But/Or.
The power of replacing but with “and” is incredible. Find out why in facilitation it can change how your participants respond and react and how you respond and react to them. Pulling ourselves out of the duality of either/or, the almighty “and” helps us see multiple realities as feasible and present.
6. The “Yes, and…” Rule.
One of the foundational rules of improv has become one of our foundational concepts of facilitation. By adding to someone’s reality rather than negating it, you can often learn much more about a person’s perspective, understanding, and ideas, than any “no” could ever bring you.
7. Asking Good Questions.
Good questions are more than just “open-ended” questions. Good facilitators ask good questions; great facilitators know how to do that every time. We cover what makes a good question, what kind of questions are out there to be asked, and what kind is best in what scenario.
8. Safe Spaces for Vulnerability.
Facilitating can be challenging; showing up and really being seen while you’re facilitating can be even harder. We explore the impact of vulnerability on facilitation, and how courageous compassion is required to make a space where folks can learn from vulnerability.
Not all experiences within a training are pleasant or wanted, and sometimes they leave our blood boiling and our heart racing. To be an effective facilitator, it’s our responsibility to manage our triggers, and we give you a model for doing just that.
10. Learning from Emotions.
Emotions happen. As facilitators, we have a choice of whether to invite emotions into our trainings and what to do when they show up. We’ll explore how to make the most of those emotional moments, and the types of powerful learning available when you get ready to wrestle with emotions.
11. Role Modeling Continuous Learning (or The Myth of the Expert).
We ask a lot of our participants, but perhaps nothing more important than being open to new learning. As a facilitator, we must lean into our own request, own our journeys, and role model the importance of saying, “I don’t know.”