Facilitate literally "to make easy."  I regularly facilitate meetings and group discussions in French or English. Facilitators are concerned with how decisions are reached instead of what decisions are reached. This involves:

  • Creating a constructive, open climate
  • Prompting all participants to contribute and prevent them from withdrawing
  • Asking provocative questions to increase exploration and eliminate superficiality
  • Ensuring the discussion goes deeper vs. in circles
  • Creating and holding the necessary "container" for the discussion in order to keep it on track (without “pushing”) so that it does not drift into a free-for-all ramble
  • Providing a neutral voice in the room to articulate what is unfolding

What a facilitator does:

  • Moderates the discussion by managing the method of the meeting, not the content
  • Ensures the day's agenda is covered to the stakeholders’ satisfaction
  • Intervenes if the discussion starts to fragment
  • Identifies dysfunctional behavior and intervening as needed
  • Preventes dominance and includes everyone in the conversation
  • Processes misperceptions and emotional reactions
  • Extracts as much qualitative data as possible out of all attendees
  • Enables a productive exchange, be it to share points of view, elicit feedback, reach consensus, or develop future requirements
  • Brings closure to a meeting and ensures actionable takeaways at day's end