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December 4, 2018

You can avoid wasting time and achieve results in your team workshop

Think of the last time you hosted a party. How much time did you spend “in the moment”? How often did you interrupt your conversation to welcome or serve a guest and answer their questions? Maybe you enjoyed your party the least because you assured that all guests got what they came for: a memorable event.
The same applies to workshops. It is the host’s role to make sure that all participants get what they came for: results and structure to implement them. When you aim for results, you cannot host and participate at the same time. You cannot be on both sides of the fence. Either you contribute, or, you guide.
As a party host, you have to face the dilemma because no professional can replace your hospitality. If you host a workshop though, you can hire a facilitator so that you can actively participate.

The role of a pro facilitator

Generally speaking, a facilitator (from French “faciliter”) is a person who makes things easy. Facilitators make it easy for the participants to achieve results within the given time frame.    

“A facilitator is someone trained in the skill of shaping group dynamics and collective conversations.”

Priya Parker

Depending on the workshop objectives and group composition, the complexity of facilitation varies. While small teams with a clear goal may be able to self-facilitate their session, others may struggle to accomplish their goals without professional guidance.

Benefits of a pro facilitator

The larger the group and the more complex the objective, the higher the likelihood for conversations to derail. Despite best intentions, we instinctively avoid uncomfortable topics. As a result, we get lost in minute details whenever we face conflict. While this shift might happen unnoticed to the participants, an external facilitator will detect the derail and bring the discussion back without interrupting a potentially fruitful conversation.
If you want to facilitate a workshop and participate at the same time, you aim to combine the un-combinable. You want to think out of the box while keeping on track of the workshop objectives, and you want to engage in blue-sky conversations while being in charge of time-boxing. You want to be “in the moment” while thinking ahead and connecting the outcomes to a bigger picture. In fact, when you are in charge of the agenda, there is little room outside your box. You cannot be on both sides of the fence. Either you facilitate, or you participate. Therefore, it may be a good investment to hire a facilitator who is in charge of the agenda, time-box and results tracking so that you can keep your headspace for the content.   


An external facilitator who does not actively participate in the exercises will help the group to focus on the workshop objectives entirely. The price of hiring a pro outweighs the costs because everyone’s time is used in a more efficient way during the workshop and after when it comes to the follow-up on the results.

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