How to make sure you choose a facilitator who will deliver what you want for your away day or corporate retreat and won't let you down.
Many people who contact us have not used a facilitator before and, often, are acting on behalf of others ? maybe the rest of your team or your boss.
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Choosing the right facilitator for your event is a big challenge. You will probably start with Google unless you have contacts who might be able to make a recommendation. But remember that someone who was successful in one situation might not be appropriate in another.
Once you have selected some prospects you will need to find out more about them.
Here are some initial questions to help you:
You needn't be too concerned that they have worked with similar organisations in the past. Rather, consider how flexible they appear to be, how they have approached working in different situations
Again, this does not have to be identical with your organisation, but if the facilitator does not have corporate experience or has not worked with charities, for example, you will need to ask more searching questions. What are your credentials?
You should not expect formal facilitation qualifications; it is the richness of a person?s background that can contribute to a successful facilitator. However, you should be reassured that they have a sound educational basis, preferably a record of recent continuing professional development.
This is a simple, practical question. Facilitators might have been consultants, trainers, coaches, public speakers, academics; they might have been in sports or in business or they might have been made redundant or taken early retirement and see facilitation as an attractive option.
Understanding their background will give you some clues to their approach.
You should be reassured that the facilitator is able to draw on a wide range of appropriate tools, and not use a favoured few because that?s all they know.
It is certainly valuable if your facilitator offers a pre-meeting at which you can jointly agree on the outcomes, discuss particular challenges and agree on outcomes. It can often be helpful to meet each participant in advance and might also be useful to be able to follow up with individual coaching or specific training.
Find out whether your facilitator is also a professional consultant, coach or trainer. Do they have specialist skills or knowledge that could be incorporated or could be relevant to follow-up work?
You will be looking for someone who will design a programme to suit your needs ? not an automatic off the shelf approach.
However, an experienced facilitator will have a few basic rules that they work by. For example, Brefi Group favours a pre-event briefing and discussion at least a week before the event.
This question will help you to appreciate the facilitator's variety of experience and their sensitivity to environment when organising an event.
This is not to suggest that your team will be causing problems, but rather to tease out the facilitator?s approach to the participants, their self confidence and the skills they bring.
This is important so that you can compare different proposals; it will also tell you something about their philosophy and their sensitivity to clients? budgetary needs.
A facilitator's fee provides important information about the person, their position in the market and their typical clients.
Cost is always a consideration when hiring a facilitator, but it should not be a deciding factor, especially if the outcome is important. Remember that the facilitator's fee is only one part of the total cost. There is also venue, travel, accommodation and the opportunity cost of the participants? time. Set against this is the value of the outcome.
You should not need to ask this question because a good facilitator will want to ask you some key questions anyway. Just note how interactive they are.
Read another chapter: Why do you need a facilitator? or download our free guide.
Brefi Group helps clients bring structure and clarity to their thinking. We help identify core issues and make the complex simple, holding the space for you to create your own solutions.
Send for our FREE guide "How to Choose a Facilitator".