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Facilitation Skills and Co-Facilitation

Posted by Paul Sitter on 1/16/14 3:00 AM
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What do a bicycle tour guide and a trainer have in common? Solid facilitation skills and the keys to co-facilitation.

It’s not a trick question or a lead into a joke… During my time off, I’m an occasional bicycle tour guide in the Napa Valley. Ride a little bit, taste a little bit—it’s a fun day. Occasionally, I’ve been a guide for large corporate tours. In that circumstance, a second guide is usually assigned to the tour because of the size of the group.

 

I quickly found the value in spending a few minutes with my fellow guide to discuss the following details:

  • How do we get the pre-tour logistics out of the way?
  • Who will speak in the pre-tour briefing? When will they speak, what will be covered, and how long will we spend on the briefing and on the tour?
  • Who will lead the tour?
  • What are the other guide’s responsibilities and where will they be located?
  • What to do in the case of an emergency?
  • What to do in the post tour wrap-up?

 

As a trainer, you can probably see where this is going. I have, as have some of you, occasionally worked with a co-facilitator. Some typical situations where you might have co-facilitated include: when you were breaking into a new job or when a co-facilitator was new. Some of you routinely work with a co-facilitator due to the length of your training sessions, or because you need to integrate a subject-matter expert into your training.

 

But if coordination between co-facilitators doesn’t go well, the training doesn’t go well. The following questions apply not only to tour guides, but also to the coordination that should occur between co-facilitators. Their answers will help ensure a well-run and successful co-facilitated course.

 

  • How do we get the pre-course logistics out of the way? For example, what time do we meet, what do we bring, what should we wear, and who will be setting up the room? These are the sorts of questions that should be addressed.
  • What will be covered by whom, and what times are allocated for the segments?
  • Ultimately, who is responsible for success of the training? You may not have a supervisory relationship with your co-facilitator, but somebody should be “driving the bus.” This could be established a number of ways. For example, by seniority, management direction, who is currently presenting, or by position within the organization.
  • How will you support each other when not on the podium? Will the other instructor be in the room? Are they available to answer difficult questions? Can they step in to clarify points? When should they not speak or interrupt?
  • How do we handle challenging situations or participants?
  • What will each of your responsibilities be after the training finishes (e.g. pass out surveys, tidy classroom, and reset computers)?

 

In any case, a little coordination goes a long way whether on a bicycle tour or in the classroom! What are some tips that have made your co-facilitated sessions a successful experience? How have you enhanced your facilitation skills to ensure seamless transitions, etc. between you and your co-facilitator?

 

For more information on handling challenging situations or participants, we have several blog posts that cover this very topic—check them out!



Dealing with Difficult Participants



Paul has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Throughout Paul’s career he’s had the pleasure of training for a variety of industries including sports, military, technical, aviation, and academia. Paul firmly believes with the right training and support, people can be competent performers in most positions. The organizational trainer is the key to providing that performance boost. In his spare time, you might catch sight of Paul on the sidelines of a soccer field, biking through Napa Valley, or spending some quality time with his family.

Topics: instructor-led training, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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