May 19, 2022

How to be a good facilitator?

A facilitator is a role taken by the UX designer when conducting brand strategy with the client. So what does it take to be a good facilitator?

A facilitator is a role taken by the UX designer when conducting brand strategy with the client. A good facilitator is someone who knows their participants, set an agenda, aligns expectations, practices active listening, stays focused on moving forward, and has a solid structure of questions and activities.

What is a facilitator in brand strategy?

A facilitator is a professional who meets with groups of people to help them reach a certain goal. In a brand strategy workshop, the facilitator's job is to facilitate the group toward the most effective way to move forward with their product.

The facilitator of a brand strategy workshop is responsible for managing the group and making sure that everyone is on the same page. This role can be challenging in a group setting because each person has their own priorities and opinions, but it's crucial to keep everyone on task and make sure everyone has a chance to be heard.

Here are some qualities that make an effective facilitator:

1. Know your participants

It's important to establish a relationship with your participants in order to facilitate an effective workshop. You don't want anyone to feel like they're being attacked or judged, but you also want to be sure everyone feels engaged and active in the process.

The facilitator should pay attention to the personality types of the people in the room. If there's a big gap between extroverts and introverts, the facilitator needs to find ways to make both parties comfortable so they can be effective contributors. The facilitator should also look for different levels of involvement by each person—maybe someone has great ideas but is hesitant to speak up, or maybe someone else is comfortable speaking up but doesn't have any good ideas. The facilitator might have to give them gentle reminders or help them come up with some good ideas.

2. Set an agenda and align expectations

As a facilitator, you'll need to be ready to handle the unexpected. This means having a set agenda, so that you can steer the conversation if it goes in a direction that doesn't allow for productive and effective interaction. Make sure everyone understands the purpose of this workshop and what they'll be contributing to it before you start, as well as what's expected of them once we get going.

It helps to set an agenda in advance and ensure that everyone involved understands what is expected of them. The agenda should be communicated before the workshop begin. It must be made clear what will be discussed during the session and how long people can expect to stay there.

3. Practice active listening

Active listening is an exercise in genuinely paying attention and finding ways to respond to a person's needs, rather than simply hearing what they say. Ask questions and offer solutions or suggestions—but only if they're invited and asked for. Instead of saying, "How was that meeting with the client?" try asking questions like "How did the meeting go?" or "What were the biggest takeaways?" which will give your project team member more space to talk about what happened, and make them feel more comfortable sharing information.

When practicing active listening, you:

  • Listen for facts and feelings (instead of just waiting for your turn to speak)
  • Acknowledge what people are saying with nonverbal cues and vocalizations
  • Repeat back what they said so they know their message got across

4. Stay focused on moving forward

The facilitator has the onerous task of making sure that everyone in a brand strategy workshop stays on track and focused. It can also be his/her job to make sure that everyone who participates has been heard—a nicely-framed question that helps the group take someone else's perspective is a simple gesture to establish rapport, but it can mean the world to participants who are less vocal or not as experienced in group dynamics.

Don't be afraid to nudge people who seem like they have something important to bring up into speaking up—but also make sure that you don't come across as pushy or controlling. Try giving them positive feedback when they say something good. And if someone asks a question or makes a comment, acknowledge them immediately.

5. Structure your questions and activities well

To be a good facilitator, you have to structure your questions well. Your questions should be framed in a way that gets your participants thinking about their own experiences and not just providing you with information. You want them to feel as if they are creating their own answers instead of feeling like they are being quizzed on something.

Plan for a balance of activity, discussion, and presentation time. If you only have time for one of these three elements, the workshop will be much more valuable if you allow the group to discuss the project rather than spending all of your time presenting ideas. This way, everyone can contribute their own ideas to the conversation.

Divide up your activities and questions into sections. You don't want to throw too many things at the group at once—breaking up the activity/discussion time with some questions will make it easier for people to move from one thing to another without feeling too overwhelmed or confused.

The role of a facilitator is more important than we typically acknowledge. Being a good facilitator can really help make an organization's strategy more cohesive and manageable, especially if you're implementing at large scale. Regardless of your whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it's possible for all of us to become great facilitators if we put in the work and try to approach strategy with an open mind. The key to fostering good discussion and producing a document people are happy with is communication—which means that being an effective facilitator is simply a matter of putting in effort and being persistent. If you're organized, competent, and positive, you'll be able to run a successful workshop.