Facilitation = To Make Things Easy
My previous experiences as an ESL teacher and comedian could not have prepared me better to be a facilitator. I bring with me, every room I have ever been in, the countless anecdotes, patience and sense of humour that have served me along the way.
When teaching English vocabulary to speakers of other languages we are always aware that the students already know what it is we are talking about - we are just providing new language for that thing. In facilitation, this is also often the case. We can help groups get to better communication and decisions by providing a common word for the thing that everyone is thinking.
As a comedian, I knew that my emotional state and the state of audience, when I got onto the stage could make or break me. Being grounded, my body language and the first words that come out of my mouth needed to put everyone at ease and let them know that they are safe, and we are going to have fun together.
The facilitation training that I have done since those formative experiences have helped me to understand that any conversation can be made easier with a little forethought and consideration.
What are we hoping to achieve?
What are the feelings in the room?
Who needs to be there?
How can we help people to show up with care and presence?
Preparing for conversations allows us to predict what tools we may draw on for the conversation, mastery of the tools means that if things need to shift we are prepared for that too.
For team building and creative problems I draw on design thinking in my facilitation approach. Conversations that are more emotionally charged, where conflict is likely to show up call for an approach that uses Deep Democracy tools which are designed to help co-create a safe environment for the group to share what is happening at a deeper level.