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Common Facilitation Mistakes

By Martha Lasley
  1. Choosing a venue that is too small, poorly lit, has uncomfortable seating or low energy
  2. Launching right in without providing a road map of where you are headed
  3. Sticking to the planned program rather than meeting needs of participants right now
  4. Allowing uneven participation or giving more air time to extroverts or people from the dominant culture
  5. Getting participants to talk to the facilitators rather than to each other
  6. Not allowing enough time for debriefing – where the real learning takes place
  7. Making yourself the center of attention
  8. Asking questions you already know the answers to - to reach the predetermined outcome
  9. Shutting down “difficult” participants instead of honoring their positive intention
  10. Scolding people for isms or micro-aggressions, rather than exploring the impact
  11. Intervening too often rather than trusting the group process
  12. Failing to focus on learning objectives or results
  13. Pretending you didn’t mess up, instead of leveraging the learning for the group
  14. Speaking before you have the full attention of the group
  15. Whispering to your co-facilitator so that participants are left wondering what’s happening
  16. Giving long confusing instructions or changing instructions when asked to repeat them
  17. Avoiding real conversations by hiding behind power point or flip charts
  18. Defending yourself when a participant expresses anger - rather than taking it in
  19. Offering inauthentic praise instead of owning your experience (sharing the actual impact the person is having on you or the group)
  20. Failing to elicit the specific learning or application during the debrief
  21. Hearing from several people near each other, rather than moving the focus around the room
  22. Avoiding exploring withholds with your co-facilitator
  23. Stepping over discomfort rather than exploring it
  24. Squeezing too much in without time for integration
  25. Lacking awareness of power dynamics
  26. Choosing who gets to speak based on who raised their hand first, rather than who has not spoken
  27. Moving on without affirming participants’ contributions
  28. Pretending you have it all together when you don’t
  29. Not allowing your co-facilitator enough space to contribute
  30. Putting group process ahead of learning or learning ahead of group process.
  31. Yelling at the group to be quiet or not knowing how to take charge / lead the group
  32. Proving how smart you are instead of eliciting wisdom from the participants.

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