Why Good Facilitation is like Magic

December 18, 2016 Chris Pearse

Some of my work is Facilitation, which I describe as enabling a Meeting of Minds.

Sometimes it works like Magic. By that, I mean that good things just happen, without being prompted, engineered or managed.

After many years of doing this, I notice that the less structure, management, intervention and expectation there is, the more Magic happens. And a bit of chaos now and then does no harm.

And I’ve concluded that the Magic is there all the time, on tap, ready to transform, inspire, create, energise, clarify and unite, at the drop of a hat.

All we have to do is to get out of its way.

So my advice to anyone asked to facilitate a meeting is to get out of the way and let the Magic do its stuff.

Here’s how:

  • Do not agree to any outcomes other than an opportunity for good conversation
  • Arrange for all discussion to be held in small teams of 3-5
  • Any plenary communication is for feedback, clarification,¬†not¬†debate
  • Get rid of tables and as much technology as possible – use flip-charts
  • Do not take any responsibility, whatsoever, for any of the conversations
  • Do not overrun – stick to timings
  • Take all warnings about particular individuals with a pinch of salt

How will you know if it worked?

  1. People will leave with more energy than they arrived with
  2. It will feel like the beginning of a conversation, not the end

A word of warning – they will not necessarily associate the successful meeting with your facilitation, they will put it down to their own brilliance. That’s part of the Magic.

Good Luck!