How to Become a Facilitator

Facilitators bring people together in beneficial collaboration, serving as a neutral party guide toward a common goal. In today’s corporate environment, many professionals are faced with calendars full of meetings, workshops, retreats, forums, retrospectives, coaching sessions, and more, each of which can be made more effective when led by a skilled facilitator.

With professional facilitators in high demand, read on to learn how to become a facilitator.

What Does a Facilitator Do?

A facilitator guides and supports a collaborative group of people as they accomplish a goal or work on a project together through the process of facilitation. A skilled facilitator will lead the group process and make sure meeting time is not wasted, producing efficient and meaningful results born from the input of all participants. 

You might be surprised to learn that there are quite a few types of facilitators. Internal facilitators work within the bounds of their company, while client facilitators come in for specific events and sessions, and both may work with any type of team, from a design team to a business optimization team and beyond. Education facilitators manage the unique compliance requirements of school programs while keeping in mind the tight schedules of educators. That’s just to name a few types of professional facilitators!

Naturally, facilitation can be used in every industry where people work together. Effective facilitation establishes the safe, engaging environment and builds a session framework where participants can then collaborate to accomplish their goal. Facilitators serve as a neutral party, keeping the session on track and mitigating any conflict.

How Do I Become a Facilitator?

There’s more than one path to becoming a facilitator. For a role as a full-time facilitator, you’ll want to develop your facilitation skills, learn about the different facilitation methodologies, and get hands-on experience in facilitation. Build your library of facilitation activities while learning about best practices for facilitation.

For hands-on facilitation experience, consider what you can propose to do within your workplace, or try looking into volunteer opportunities. Many certification programs, like the Facilitation Certification from Voltage Control, include hands-on facilitation experience and dedicated mentorship.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Facilitator

Effective facilitators come from all backgrounds. While some hold college degrees in business and communications, others have a natural facilitation mindset and a deep understanding of how to bring people together toward a goal.

Facilitation certification ensures that, no matter their background, the facilitator has the deep knowledge they need to run effective work sessions, training sessions, and team meetings. Professional facilitation certification and facilitation training courses provide context and understanding of the different facilitation methodologies, so the correct facilitation process can be implemented for each session.

Do I Need to Be Certified to Be a Facilitator?

No, you do not need to hold formal facilitation certification to successfully facilitate meetings, workshops, and other sessions, as many people are called on to facilitate ad hoc. However, if you plan to facilitate regularly as an internal facilitator or professional facilitator, facilitation certification can hugely benefit you by building up your confidence and making you comfortable in your practice. Through certification, you also will gain a thorough understanding of different facilitation practices and key facilitation skills. 

For those ready to become a professional facilitator, Voltage Control offers comprehensive certification for facilitators, aligned with International Association of Facilitators (IAF) competencies. Our Facilitation Certification develops foundational facilitation skills and connects participants with a cohort of facilitation colleagues, all delivered in a flexible online format.

5 Essential Skills to Become an Effective Facilitator

A successful facilitator will continually grow their repertoire of comprehensive skills and effective facilitation techniques. Below, we outline a few of the essential skills you’ll need to become a facilitator and successfully manage the facilitation process.

Once you have these essential skills in place, begin to work on the five foundational qualities of the facilitation mindset, which you can learn more about here.

1. Active Listening

An excellent facilitator will be an active listener, bringing mutual understanding not just to themselves but also to all participants of the session. Active listening produces a better dissemination of information and understanding, and thus a more effective session. Additionally, an advanced facilitator should be able to read the body language of the session participants to identify points of frustration as well as excitement. 

2. Conflict Resolution

It’s a common misconception that conflict is inherently negative. In fact, many effective sessions include moments of conflict. An effective facilitator can navigate these challenging situations and leverage conflict to work through a difficult problem or opposing viewpoints, coming to a respectful, agreeable resolution.

3. Creative Problem Solving

Effective facilitation often requires creative approaches to solving the problem at hand. If the problem was quick and easy to solve, it would likely not require a dedicated facilitation session. Skilled facilitators know they can lean on different facilitation techniques and facilitation practices to bring a creative lens to the problem and approach a resolution.

4. Positivity and Enthusiasm 

While you may think you need to be a great public speaker to become a facilitator, you really just need a positive attitude and enthusiastic approach. Many of your session participants may be overbooked with boring meetings and training programs, which you cannot change. What you can manage, though, is the attitude you bring and how it affects the participants.

In remote facilitation, participants may not want to take an active role in the meeting or, in particular, in breakout sessions. By establishing your enthusiasm up front, you can encourage attendees to also be passionate about the goal you are accomplishing together.

5. Time Management

When you decide you want to become a facilitator, your time management skills should be top of mind. Your time within the facilitation session is limited, so you must be willing to adapt to the direction that will most benefit your participants. Novice facilitators may stumble on a few common mistakes when it comes to time management, like struggling to pace facilitation activities correctly or causing participants to feel rushed. With proper planning and experience, though, you can learn how to manage time effectively.

Professional Facilitation Training and Certification Process

The best way to become a facilitator is to obtain a facilitation certification to establish your credentials. By becoming a Certified Professional Facilitator, you’ll stand out as someone who has met key educational requirements and developed leading-edge content knowledge in the field.

Facilitation Certification from Voltage Control features three facilitation training courses which teach core competencies and provide hands-on practice and feedback. Once the courses are complete and certification requirements are met, participants receive a full facilitation certification to display on their professional profiles.

More advanced facilitators can complete the Master Facilitation Certification to level up their professional expertise.

Online Facilitation Training Courses

If you want to become a facilitator but aren’t ready to start the certification process, you can begin by taking facilitator training courses. At Voltage Control, we offer a range of online facilitator training courses, allowing you to learn about facilitation skills and tools at your own pace.

In addition to our training courses, we lead live online workshops about facilitation. These facilitation workshops provide a more interactive experience where you are learning alongside like-minded peers, taught by an expert facilitator.

Facilitation training courses and facilitation workshops both provide great stepping stones to becoming a facilitator.

Free Resources for Becoming a Facilitator

If you’re not ready to commit to facilitation certification or training courses, there are plenty of free facilitation resources available. For example, Voltage Control hosts Facilitation Lab, a weekly virtual meetup of the facilitator community. Facilitation Lab provides a great place to engage in free and paid events that deepen learning and exposure to new techniques and tools.

Additionally, we have a facilitation resource library of free templates, tools, and guides available for download, plus a downloadable collection of workshop methods and activities. These facilitation resources can be used in your meetings or as practice and planning tools.

For the latest news and trends in facilitation, follow along on the Voltage Control blog and the Facilitation Lab podcast, hosted by Douglas Ferguson.

Voltage Control Can Help You Become a Successful Facilitator

At Voltage Control, we understand the transformative power of effective facilitation. Whether you’ve just started thinking about how to become a facilitator or are well on your way, we have the resources, certifications, and training courses to help you succeed.

Our Facilitation Certification is shaped around building the very best facilitators, giving them the unique knowledge and expertise to identify the right facilitation frameworks and methodologies for each facilitation session. To get started on your journey to becoming a Certified Professional Facilitator, discover our certification program today.

For additional information, contact Voltage Control.