Group Facilitation Skills
An important skill needed by Extension educators is the ability to guide groups of individuals through processes that will result in the achievement of group goals and objectives. These situations may include:
- County Extension Councils
- Program Advisory Committees
- Community Decisionmaking Groups
- Associated Clubs and Organizations
- Other Programmatic Stakeholders
Some of the purposes of the group facilitation process may be to help a group:
- Identify community and target audience program needs
- Rank possible alternatives to identify those that are priorities
- Identify the steps needed to complete a particular project and establish a timeline for the steps
- Develop a long-range strategic plan for the achievement of identified goals
- Discuss and better understand different sides of divisive issues
The resources shown below provide guidance for Extension educators who want to learn basic knowledge and skills needed to be a good group facilitator.
Group Facilitation Overview
- Facilitation: What is it?
A publication from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension "GroupWorks: Getting Things Done in Groups" series that describes what group facilitation is, facilitation core practices and facilitation behaviors and strategies. (PDF)
- Facilitated Meetings (ConnectAR) Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service publication that helps the reader understand
the basic functions of a facilitator and how
facilitation differs from other forms of group processes. (PDF)
- The Skilled Group Leader
This presentation, from the Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) program, provides basic information about the role and responsibilities of a group leader. THis information can be appropriate for both a group facilitator or a leader of an organization who is in the leadership role of that group. (PDF)
- Facilitation: What is it?
Facilitation Skills and Practices
- Appreciating DifferencesA publication from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension "GroupWorks: Getting Things Done in Groups" series provides ideas to help the facilitator understand how to effectively work with differences and disabilities that may exist with individuals participating in a group process. (PDF)
- Tools of the Facilitator
A list of the tools and supplies that a facilitator can utilize to imcrease their effectiveness. (PDF)
- Tools Discussion Leaders Use in Open Discussion
A fact sheet from the Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) Program that describes active listening techniques that a facilitator can use to increase the effectiveness of group discussion. (PDF)
- Effective Communication
A publication from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension "GroupWorks: Getting Things Done in Groups" series that describes the importance of good communication between individuals, what can block good communication and provides techniques that can be utilized to improve communication. (PDF)
- Working With Group Conflict
A publication from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension "GroupWorks: Getting Things Done in Groups" series that describes sources of conflict in groups, a group process for working through conflict and the role of the facilitator in addressing conflict in a group. (PDF)
- Room Arrangements for Meetings and Presentations
Diagrams of different room arrangement setups that can be used for group meetings and presentations. (PDF)
- Building and Using a Sticky Wall
Instructions for building and using a fabric adhesive wall that can be used in group facilitation settings and for other idea-generating, decision making situations. (PDF)
- Brainstorming A fact sheet from the Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) Program that describes the "Brainstorming" process of generating ideas in group meetings. (PDF)
- 100 Votes A fact sheet from the Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) Program that describes the decision making process of "100 Votes." (PDF)
- Multivoting A fact sheet from the Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) Program that describes the decision making process of "Multivoting." (PDF)
- Nominal Group Technique I A fact sheet from the Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) Program that describes the "Nominal Group Technique" process of decision making (PDF)
- Nominal Group Technique II A more detailed description of the nominal group technique (NGT) process of decision making that includes a number of alternative voting techniques. (PDF)
Links to Additional Online Facilitation Resources
- Developing Facilitation Skills, The Community Toolbox This chapter of the University of Kansas' "The Community Toolbox" (http://ctb.ku.edu) identifies the skills needed to effectively facilitate group discussions, describes how to plan a good facilitation process, provides facilitator skills and tips and ideas for how to deal with disruptors.
- The Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA, Technology of Participation Website The mission of the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the U.S.A. is to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth through empowering cultural dimensions of the social process. ICA programs strengthen the capacities of organizations, communities, and individuals to build and implement innovative plans of action that draw upon assets and social capital in a collaborative manner. One of the programs offered by the ICA is the Technology of Participation (ToP) program. ToP is a facilitation model that includes processes that help groups think, talk and work together and provides facilitators with structured methods to guide groups.
- Seven Key Skills of Workshop Facilitation A nine-minute YouTube video by Jan Delmas describing seven skills that a facilitator should possess to effectively work with groups
- What Do Facilitators Do? A four-minute YouTube video from the International Institute for Facilitation and Change that describes the various roles that a facilitator plays when working with groups to achieve the group goals.