This guest post is from Ben Adonis, an intern helping the UX Mastery team with their current community project. After facilitating a workshop for the first time, we asked Ben to share his thoughts.
I recently had the opportunity to join Matt and Luke in facilitating my first empathy map workshop. The facilitator plays an important role when conducting any form of workshop: they help pave the way for discussion in a group; they provide guidance and context to the audience; and they provide direction. I hope that sharing these tips will help other first-time facilitators.
Facilitation may workshop facilitation best practices fairly straightforward, but there is an art to getting it right.
Luckily, many others have paved the way and are generous with their advice. This is an essential read for first-time facilitators. You may have had a bad experience the first time you facilitated a workshop.
Seek out opportunities to chalk up your facilitation hours, rather than sitting by the sidelines. I compensate for that by over-preparing, so that I have a plan for every scenario I encounter during a workshop.
Despite gaining plenty of great insights and responses from the audience during my first workshop, I was disappointed with my lack of preparation. If I could go back in time, I would have prepared more for this workshop at one point during the workshop, I was in the process of giving examples to the audience when I drew a blank! Part of this preparation should include understanding who will be attending. Even better, ask your key contact to fill you in with as much detail about each individual as possible—who they are, what role they play within their organisation, and what their priorities and motivations are.
Echoing the principles of user-centred design, if you know your audience, you can better frame the questions you ask them in the workshop. In a conversation, silence is often a sign that nothing is happening. During my workshop there were long pauses of silence, which I initially took this as a sign that the audience was finding it hard to generate ideas, or had finished taking notes.
I continually felt the need to jump in and say something, but eventually realised that in fact the complete opposite was happening—their creative juices were flowing. When Matt was taking me through an overview of the workshop he told me to have a closing summary. All that was offered in terms of a closing summary was a Thanks and a Goodbye. It can be confusing for audience members to come out of a workshop without a sense of progress and clear next actions.
Your participants should be given a summary of the workshop outcomes, information about how the activity commonapp] will be used, and what is expected from them moving forward. By having a closing summary we give context and closure to the workshop attendees.
Our nervousness comes from the fact that we think we will fail. Instead of fighting or worrying about your nerves, embrace them, and transform that nervous energy into positive energy.
Enjoy the thrill of being in the spotlight, smile, and focus on keeping things upbeat, and your workshop will be enjoyable for the attendees as well as for you. Overall, my experience as a first-time workshop facilitator was great. No article can substitute the real deal of facilitating a workshop.
Get yourself out there and gain some first-hand experience. Make mistakes and learn from them. A huge thanks to Matt and Luke for brown university resume me the chance to learn.
In his spare time, he loves playing the guitar and making furniture. Very useful article Ben. I am going to have my 1st empathy mapping workshop shortly and your article will really prove helpful for me. Reading your thoughts was soothing! Really nice tips, resume workshop activities will have my first time co-facilitator but truly i am so nervous and do not think i can do it.
Thanks a lot Ben, am preparing to facilitate in a seminar for the first time so reading from youmakes me equipped. How do I facilitate without teaching?!? I have no idea if anyone else on the course has ever studied music at all, or what an MRI not the medical one is. There are a few cool ideas like seating them in a round circle, and having them write three things down, 2 true 1 false, about themselves and read it out.
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Dec 16, - In this post we explore how adults learn, the role of the facilitator, example workshop session designs and facilitation best practices. Jan 28, - A workshop facilitator is a person who essentially sets all the right .. the best way to get better at facilitation is to practice, practice, practice! Oct 18, - Whether you're designing your own workshop or facilitating something that someone else designed, there are some best practices that will help.