Why you need professional facilitation to get the most out of your workshops

“The facilitator plays the role of a model of authenticity for the group: listening for the depth of decisions that need to be faced, speaking only from experience, preferring remaining silent to giving ‘good advice’ ungrounded in personal experience, rejoicing in the successes of the group.” -John Epps

The best workshops are learning experiences for lasting growth and transformation. They keep all participants engaged, drive key learning objectives and facilitate lasting change. If your workshops fall short, you may need the help of a workshop facilitator to produce better outcomes. It takes a pro-level toolkit and mindset to unearth potential and maintain results.

Workshop facilitation transforms meeting structure and dynamics. A professional meeting moderator has the ability to lead objectively and strategically to produce better outcomes at your company meeting or working session.

Why You Should Hire a Workshop Facilitator

The difference between a truly impactful workshop and a mediocre one is often an expert leader–someone well-versed in bringing people together, navigating conversations, and helping solve complex problems. With a professional workshop facilitator at the helm, you can get the whole group engaged and participating, which leads to more productive meetings. Here are three reasons an outside professional facilitator is an asset to your next workshop.

1. A Non-Biased Leader

A workshop facilitator is a non-biased and neutral figure at your meeting that offers a fresh perspective. Unlike the inevitable biases that exist within your team, a skilled facilitator’s viewpoint is untainted by bias; instead, it is objective. They are removed from office politics and are an outsider to the company status quo. This vantage point allows them to ask critical questions, hold everyone accountable to the truth, and ensure ground rules are enforced. Sometimes this means helping the group embrace harsher realities that are necessary to solving problems and making thoughtful decisions. 

When the workshop facilitator is an unbiased navigator, they are able to guide the group more efficiently and effectively because their own opinions are not in the way. They can see the problem(s) at hand more clearly and are therefore able to address issues quicker and easier. This especially comes in handy when solving complex problems or settling matters of great importance. Sometimes it takes someone removed from the situation–with the other critical skills of a master facilitator–to identify how to best problem solve. 

2. Greater Engagement

Extracting equal engagement from all participants in any workshop is an art form. In short, it can be challenging. And for workshops to be impactful and influence lasting growth, you need the best of all participants. A workshop facilitator has the unique ability to work the room, encouraging all participants to interact. Workshop facilitators are trained to increase engagement and keep team members energized throughout the meeting. They do so by assessing the group’s current engagement level, minimizing distractions, and sticking to the schedule. Many facilitators also practice improv, so they have the skills to adapt to unplanned or unforeseen scenarios. For example, the facilitator will recognize a distraction or decrease in group energy levels and pivot the conversation/flow of the meeting when needed to bring it back to focus. This increases productivity and helps contribute to a more effective team dynamic.

Facilitators are skilled in a variety of engagement strategies and feel confident in leading a group. Also, workshop facilitators aren’t invested in the content of the meeting, which makes room for more opposing opinions. When outside facilitators lead, the team will be more comfortable expressing new ideas.

For example, if you are leading a meeting and your employees know that you have a certain point of view on an issue, they may not speak freely. This doesn’t produce innovation or contribution; it reinforces the company’s current structure and beliefs. When your employees walk in and notice someone else is running the workshop, they will be more excited or curious to see if the meeting pans out differently. This curiosity and excitement can lay the foundation for innovation. Your employees will feel more at ease expressing new thoughts, skills, and solutions when a new approach is presented.

Meetings and work cultures generally take on a routine. People usually know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. They also know how most meetings will go. Depending on your meeting history and feedback, this could either be good or bad. If you’ve heard more negative reviews than positive, it might be time to hire a workshop facilitator.

A workshop facilitator is a fresh new face and personality at the meeting. They can help to break old patterns and create new ones.

Facilitators know a variety of engagement strategies and feel confident in leading a group. Also, workshop facilitators aren’t invested in the content of the meeting, which makes room for more opposing opinions.

When outside facilitators lead, the team will be more comfortable expressing new ideas.

For example, if you are leading a meeting and your employees know that you have a certain point of view on an issue, they may not speak freely. This doesn’t produce innovation or contribution; it reinforces the company’s current structure and beliefs.

3. Increased Positivity

When differing opinions emerge in a meeting, tensions can arise. Two employees may be very passionate about their stance, leaving you to manage the conversation without damaging any relationships. A workshop facilitator can seamlessly manage these potentially negative interactions by remaining a positive and unbiased presence.

Pro-tip: Refer to our Facilitators Guide to Questions for effective questions to ask to transform negative environments.

Hiring a workshop facilitator can also increase positivity at meetings by creating sharing and brainstorming opportunities. Workshop facilitators bring a toolkit of methodologies and strategies to employ that help teams work well together. They know when to use each method to get the desired results. Some examples include: brainstorming activities that move the group from divergent to convergent thinking to come up with and identify solutions to problems, encouraging active listening to create an inclusive and productive environment, and inspiring and balancing participation among extroverted and introverted personalities so that all voices are heard and understood by the group. The many techniques of a workshop facilitator can successfully get individuals to open up and express their opinions with ease.

Hiring a Workshop Facilitator

Hiring a professional facilitator for your next workshop, large group meeting, complicated meeting, or project kick-off will help your organization grow and solve complex problems quickly and effectively. A facilitator will provide a safe space for team members to contribute their ideas which will strengthen the entire group and overall outcome. Their organizational and problem-solving expertise will allow gatherings to flow smoothly, minimize issues, and extract important information. Workshop facilitators are an asset before, during, and after workshops, as they play an essential role in all parts of the process to ensure lasting results. 

If you’d like to hire a workshop facilitator for your next meeting or training, consider our services at Voltage Control. We offer a range of facilitation and innovation workshops that can help your company to get to the next level of employee engagement, growth, and innovation.