Skip to content

Episode 087

November 18, 2020

087: Facilitation is about being in service with Jay Melone

Sign up to download the free 1-page summary.



    Great facilitators aren’t always subject matter experts. In fact, they may know very little about the workshop’s topic. A successful facilitator acts in service of others and knows when to lead from the back, as well as from the front.

    Jay Melone believes that being a great facilitator requires a unique mindset. He stresses that to be a good facilitator, you must practice curiosity, patience and leave your concerns about being the expert behind. After meeting Jay earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to talk to him about his approach to facilitating, both as an expert in the field and as a “shy extrovert”.

    Jay is the Founder and Principal Facilitator at New Haircut, an innovation strategy firm. He shared many thoughtful insights into a facilitator’s role and how you can effectively lead a group, even if you’re not comfortable being the centre of attention. I hope this episode inspires you to step outside of your comfort zone and facilitate with confidence

    Find out about

    • Why being curious makes a great facilitator
    • The difference between an expert and a facilitator
    • Why people are now willing to prepare for workshops ahead of time
    • How to leverage your personality type as a facilitator
    • How to design an agenda for measurable workshop success
    • Why Jay encourages everyone to step out of their comfort zones
    • How to trust your workshop’s design

    Don’t miss the next show: sign up to my newsletter and subscribe to the show through your podcast player.

    Feeling inspired by the conversation in this episode? We can have our own – take a seat at my virtual table as part of a Mastermind Group.

    A huge thank you must go to SessionLab, the sponsor of Workshops Work. Claim your free two months of SessionLab Pro now – this deal is exclusive to Workshops Work listeners!

    Questions and Answers

    01:28 When did you start calling yourself a facilitator?

    02:27 What makes a good facilitator

    06:15 To what extent is a facilitator a mix between a journalist and an engineer?

    09:40 What is your experience placing yourself as a facilitator? Do you facilitate from the centre of the conversation or from the side?

    20:01 What did you learn about being a participant in an 1,800 person workshop?

    21:36 Do you think it’s easier or more difficult for an introvert, or shy facilitator, to guide groups online versus on-site?

    28:42 What would you advise aspiring facilitators who think they’re too shy to be a good facilitator?

    34:56 What makes a workshop fail?

    36:06 How do you know when your workshop is failing due to a design problem or an external problem caused by the group?

    44:01 What is your favourite exercise?

    48:35 How do you trust yourself to lead your team?

    52:51 What is the main takeaway from our conversation?


    Connect to Jay Melone

    On LinkedIn