Facilitation: what matters is making it matter

"What's the single biggest tip you can give me?" was a question I was asked whilst running a facilitation skills course last week. I replied instantly. My answer had nothing to do with an interactive, multi-sensory approach. It was much more fundamental: what matters (when you're facilitating) is making it matter (to the participants). After a few quizzical looks, I began my explanation which I'll shorthand here.

As I see it, in capability building, the whole point of facilitating a learning event, virtual or F2F, is to change the attitude & behaviour of participants in line with both their development needs & the organisation's objectives. At Brand Learning, we aim to create & facilitate 'Sticky Learning' content that inspires and motivates for real performance benefit. The one element that helps to create this sticky glue is emotion. Without the emotional framework, why should my brain, which is on daily factual overload, remember anything, let alone help my body do anything differently?

Think about the moments in your life you can recall most. I'll bet they are the ones loaded with emotion. Now, drill that down to think about the most compelling learning experience you've had. Again, I'd imagine emotional frameworks will be awash here. The significant features of that event would have contained a fabulous emotional cocktail of passion, importance, excitement, a little fear of failure, human connection & laughter.

Whilst the rational content is the skeleton that a facilitator has to consider, they also need to reflect on what it is they have to get To not what they have to get Through. When they take a moment to really connect with the attitude & behaviour change they need, they are much more likely to be able to make the experience more significant emotionally. This is where they turn up the volume on connecting with the people in front of them, bringing in personal stories & encouraging anecdotes to interrupt the expected.

What matters and is emotionally significant is, of course, different for all of us, but the common thread is where we each have a real personal need, at a specific moment in time i.e. our own burning platform. Even that language makes you feel inclined to focus & be motivated. The facilitator just has to find that for each of us.

So broadening out this theme, think about how you'll make something matter emotionally for someone else in order to create a change in how they think or what they will do. Take a minute to reflect on previously ineffective requests & consider… How can your excitement encourage your family to help you out? How can you use your commitment & support to motivate your children to practice for their piano exam? How can your passion, stories & dreams be so compelling, that making that lifestyle change is really what your friends and colleagues want to do?

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly on LinkedIn. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Learning.

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