There has been a really interesting thread on the Professional Facilitators Network on LinkedIn about “How to explain what you do“.  Some of the ideas have been very well thought out and have made me think about my elevator pitch and how to ‘sell’ facilitation.

As a facilitator I find clearly communicating what you do is a perennial problem – unless people have come across the role before their eyes may glaze over as I try to explain. Another problem is that it can be difficult for managers to see where a facilitator could help them, however, once they have experienced a facilitator structuring a meeting, bringing clarity and focus and standing at the front and taking the flak, they are normally converted.

You need to put yourself in the manager’s shoes and make the idea of facilitation relevant to their situation and demonstrate the benefits to them.

Here are some of the points I’ve used:

  • A facilitator will structure and control the meeting so that all attendees get something out of the meeting which avoids wasting your time amd money in meetings that get nowhere.
  • A facilitator doesn’t get dragged into the detail or the politics of a situation. They keep the focus on the common aims of the group and ensure that agendas are followed
  • A skilled facilitator will mediate where there are conflicts between people that are stopping progress. This may prove uncomfortable for a while in the meeting but in the longer term this approach will help improve meeting skills and working relationships
  • An experienced facilitator will guide you, challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone to ensure that the meeting reaches the best decision
  • If the manager is also the technical expert, they may not be able to tackle this problem because theyknow too much about it. Facilitation will help keep a meeting on track and avoid getting sucked in to the detail.

Can you clearly explain what you do? How do you ensure that a busy manager sees the benefit in the role or service you provide?

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