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Episode 133

October 06, 2021

133: The conversation I wish I heard when I started facilitating with Meg Bolger

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    Meg Bolger is a perfect example of facilitation for good, founding and leading multiple organisations focused on promoting DEI and LGBTQ justice, awareness, and allyship.

    On top of their incredible work towards facilitating a fairer, kinder world, Meg also has plenty of entrepreneurial spark, being the brains behind the wildly successful and much-loved Facilitator Cards.

    Meg is a true facilitation geek.

    Our conversation basically became a survival guide for new facilitators and a booster shot for more experienced facilitators. Unmissable.

    We’ve divided this one up into three separate episodes, because the conversation was simply too good to stop after one hour!

    Across the three shows, we explore the “meta-level” of facilitation, including education/training/certification in part 1; the art of facilitation, including tools and exercises in part 2; and the high art of facilitation, including our own – sometimes painful – learnings including workshop management and professional development in part 3.

    We both agreed, it was the conversation we wish we’d had when we first started facilitating!

    Find out about

    • The merits and shortcomings of qualifications and certifications in facilitation
    • What the common causes of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ facilitation are
    • Why a ‘failed’ workshop isn’t always a universal failure
    • Meg’s favourite exercises, tools, and DIY fixes to common problems
    • How to debrief yourself at the end of a workshop
    • How and why to shape your workshops according to the energy levels in the room

    Don’t miss the next show: Subscribe to the show with your favourite podcast player.

    Special Discount for WorkshopsWork listeners

    Get the 3-pack of wet-erase markers that pair with the cards on us with the code WORKSHOPSWORK when purchasing the facilitator cards, or, use this link 

    A huge thank you must go to SessionLab, the sponsor of part 1. Claim your free two months of SessionLab Pro now – this deal is exclusive to Workshops Work listeners!

    Thanks to part 2’s sponsor, Deckhive. Click here to find out more about the new platform for using card decks in online facilitation. Use the code workshopswork to get the first month for free.

    If the idea of NeverDoneBefore 2021, the community of facilitators, caught your attention; click here to explore it in more detail!

    And if you prefer to watch our conversation, click here for the Youtube video.

    Questions and Answers

    01:23When did you start calling yourself a facilitator – and when did you become a facilitation geek?
    04:55Did you read books and train as a facilitator or was it learning by doing?
    12:41Can I facilitator be too ‘close’, too engaged, to the content they are facilitating that they can unintentionally manipulate the group and their outcomes?
    20:40Are books the best way to learn about facilitation?
    27:35Do you believe in certification?
    36:32How would you distinguish a good facilitator from a bad one?
    41:52How important is self-awareness to being a good facilitator? Where does character come into it?
    Part 2

    00:54What makes a bad workshop? Or what makes a workshop fail?
    04:02What’s a bad workshop from the perspective of a participant?
    06:41What did you learn from that participant saying you didn’t advertise a workshop appropriately?
    10:38When you prepare a workshop, where do you look for inspiration and what is your process?
    18:41Do you have a favourite exercise?
    21:51What would you tell your younger self about facilitation?
    29:58This reminds me of the issue whereby facilitators get too attached to a particular outcome and refuse to see others as a valid possibility. Can you speak to that?
    32:50If everyone leaves a workshop with the same opinions they started with, has it really been that successful?
    Part 3

    00:54How do you reflect and give yourself feedback after a session?
    06:48Which exercises typically run on longer than you’d want them to?
    12:09How can you diplomatically tell someone they’re taking too long to answer?
    16:55How do you deal with participants who want to share every idea they generated in a brainstorm?
    21:24How do you balance that desire for clarity with the need to honour people’s contributions?
    26:49Discussing the value of experiential educators.
    33:14Managing our triggers as facilitators and keeping our focus on the group.44:55Do you think we can grow our self-awareness without being open to feedback?
    50:05Is the inability to deliver fair, honest, constructive feedback endemic across the population?55:51What is the one thing you would like listeners to take away from this episode?



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