10 questions to help you choose a facilitator

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.

Send for our comprehensive guide: "How to Choose a Facilitator"

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:

  1. What sorts of organisations and groups have you worked with?

  2. 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

  3. What business experience do you bring?

  4. 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.

  5. What is your intellectual/philosophical background?

  6. 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.

  7. What processes/tools do you offer?

  8. 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.

  9. Do you offer any other services?

  10. 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?

  11. Do you have any basic rules when developing a proposal?

  12. 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.

    • Unless the venue is so local that we can visit in advance and discuss the layout then we insist on arriving the night before
    • We always start with an introduction, housekeeping and ground rules
    • Next follows an introductions and aspirations session with aspirations recorded on flip charts
    • Where possible, the next session involves a communication exercise
    • We start each successive day with a review
    • At the end we focus on actions, commitments and review
    • We photograph the flip charts and arrange for their future ownership
    • We do not favour 'happy sheets' but send out workshop evaluation questionnaires a few days later
    • For intercontinental flights we expect a 36 hour recovery period before the event (however, this can be used for briefings, orientation and introductions)

  13. What advice can you give me on selecting a venue?

  14. This question will help you to appreciate the facilitator's variety of experience and their sensitivity to environment when organising an event.

  15. How do you address dysfunctional behaviour?

  16. 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.

  17. What is your basis for charging?

  18. 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.

    • Do you charge by the day or by the event?
    • Do you charge for design and development?
    • If there are handouts/workbooks, how are they produced/charged for?
    • Do you charge for travel?
    • Is your fee inclusive, or do you charge extra for expenses?
    • Do you require a deposit ? or pre-payment?
    • Do you charge VAT?
    • Is your fee flexible?
    • Do you have special rates for charities and social enterprises?
    • Do you offer favourable terms for follow-up activities or further work?

    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.

  19. What questions do you have for me?

  20. 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.

FREE GUIDE: "How to choose a facilitator"

This 35-page comprehensive guide to choosing a facilitator explains what a facilitator does and why you might need one, including some examples of facilitator-led events.

It includes advice on how to find and select a venue ? and how to save money in the process.

A series of fundamental questions will help you choose a facilitator and example programmes and strategy tools will help you prepare a brief.

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How do I Choose a Facilitator?

Facilitation

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".

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