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Facilitation Tips and Tricks

Facilitation is NOT about You! Master Facilitators approach their craft much like an actor – with the audience in mind. Once knowledge regarding content is mastered, the focus is on how best to guide the learning experience. Great facilitators understand their role is to serve as a tour guide, enabling their group to easily move from Point A to Point B, on a transformational journey to their destination: continuous learning!

Here are some essential tips and tricks to guide you on your journey through the lens of the most critical skill for a facilitator: Communication. Let’s break down the competency of communication into bite-size, agile chunks to understand the major components and then employ The Mehrabian Model to demonstrate real-world applicability for the facilitator.

What Effective Communication Looks and Sound Like

Communicates Effectively (delineate the role-specific behaviors in verbal and written communication). Actively listens and uses a communication style appropriate for the situation and audience.

  • Understands and effectively employs Communication Behaviors (Mehrabian Model – visual, verbal, vocal)
  • Present relevant information in a timely, logical, clear and consistent voice
  • Expresses ideas clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing
  • Understands and effectively employs Communicates via Presentation (Presents: using communication focused external tools/use of levers)
  • Creates graphics, overheads, or slides that display information clearly and with high impact
  • Uses graphics and other aids to clarify complex information
  • Selects stories, analogies, or examples to illustrate a point
  • Understand and masters Communication delivery (audience-centric experiences)
  • Selects language and examples tailored to the level and experience of the audience
  • Tailors written communications to effectively reach an audience
  • Engages in focused inquiry and dialogue
  • Builds shared meaning

Now that we have a strong foundational understanding of the major components and subcomponents of effective communication that we’ll want to demonstrate, let’s do a deeper dive into The Mehrabian Model.

The Mehrabian Model

Albert Mehrabian (1939, Professor Emeritus) is best known for his ground breaking theories on verbal and non-verbal communication. His theories are quoted all over the world and in particular his 7-38-55 communication model.
7% is the message content, or what you say
38% is your tone, intonation and volume or how you say it
55% is how you stand, the gestures you use or your body language
Early humans had undeveloped voices and were dependent on nonverbal cues to communicate and understand the messages they were receiving. This remains deeply rooted in our brains today. Use The Mehrabian Model as your guide to enhance your platform skills by focusing on the following:

Concentrate On The Message you wish to convey, your audience (are they leaders or front-line employees, happy to be there, or can’t wait to get out of there! – this is where your focus should be – not on yourself!). A happy byproduct of focusing on the message you wish to convey and your audience is that your fear will dissipate. Your full attention is on guiding the learning experience.

Learn, Practice, Reflect – Repeat this process again and again to foster continuous learning: Together, everyone learns a new skill, behavior or ability. Next, there is practical application of the new skill, and finally take a step back and reflect on the experience; what went well, what might be done differently to achieve the desired result, are there any gaps to address.

Layers of Scaffolding – Build upon core concepts throughout the learning experience to help learners see connections and hook personal meaning into the learning (WIIFM – what’s in it for me).

Listening – Listening is the primary skill of facilitation. It’s easy to forget this when we are intent on delivering our message. Once we have introduced a new skill, behavior, or ability, our role is enable the group to breathe life into this behavior – how it has real-world applicability for them.

Facilitate Discovery – ask open-ended questions to generate discussion, enabling participants to share new perspectives. This can be infectious and foster group synergy!

The Pregnant Pause – Get comfortable with the uncomfortable: Silence. After posing a question, do the unthinkable…wait 5 seconds to allow time for reflection and a response from participants.

Paraphrase and Ask Clarifying Questions – Repeat back in your own words your understanding of what has been said. Paraphrasing has a calming effect. It makes people feel heard. Ask clarifying questions to help participants refine their thoughts, ideas, and new levels of self-awareness.

Tell Your Story – Bring a concept to life through real story-telling that helps your audience identify with you

Be Yourself – Resist imitating someone else’s delivery style. Get comfortable in your own skin and be your authentic self.

Master Facilitators are always honing their skills and enhancing their communication skills through an audience-centric approach. Empower your learners to take an active role in their development by serving as the dedicated guide-on-the side throughout their transformational journey.


1. Bens, I. (2012). Facilitation at a Glance- Third Edition: Your Pocket Guide to Facilitation GOAL/QPC.
2. Hunter, d., Bailey,A., & Taylor, B (1995). The Art of Facilitation How to Create Group Synergy. Fisher Books
3. Review online.

At Propulo, we understand that “magic bullets” are a myth. We work hand-in-hand with organizations to drive practical, long-term business improvements. We’d love to discuss our innovative ‘People Meet Process’ approach and how we might be able to help you.


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