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Importance of Facilitation in a Workshop

Do you love attending workshops? I absolutely love attending workshops. There is something transformational about experiencing learning together with a group. As a new workshop trainer, I am fascinated by how the best trainers design and engage transformational workshops.

I recently attended an engaging three day workshop on 'Group Facilitation Skills' conducted by Community at Work. I walked away not only with a set of new skills to explore but it got me reflecting on the importance of facilitation in a training workshop.

Let's start off with the definition.

Training is about sharing information through practices designed to help the participants learn. Facilitation on the other hand is about drawing wisdom from the participants and improving the thinking within a group.

To illustrate the difference, let's look at a typical training through the 3 Cs - Context, Content and Conversation.

In any training program, context is critical to designing any training content focusing on what is required by the participants. The key factor that makes a training effective lies in the importance that is placed on content vis-a-vis conversation.

In a typical corporate training, the focus is primarily on content and getting the participants to understand/deepen the knowledge that is shared. Conversation is designed from a Q&A standpoint, primarily to address questions from the participants. Many of the corporate training I have attended, have focused on this approach.

The more engaging training on the other hand place more emphasis on conversation and drawing the insights from the group. This makes the group feel more engaged and contribute to the overall learning within the group. Content is designed to highlight the key points made and to tie in the insights shared by the group.

The most effective training is an interplay of sharing content and drawing conversations. There has to be scenarios where the training is content rich and helps the participants learn new concepts and scenarios where the training is conversation rich and helps the participants learn by sharing their insights.

A facilitative approach then is absolutely essential to engaging the audience and for creating a transformational learning experience for the participants. Today's training programs are too skewed towards sharing content and more emphasis on facilitation will help address this gap and ensure increased engagement. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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