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