Be an Event Facilitator | TJ Walker | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

14 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Course Introduction

    • 2. Reach Your Facilitating Goals

    • 3. Do Your Homework

    • 4. Be Like Disraeli

    • 5. Make the Right Introductions

    • 6. Stay In the Moment

    • 7. Ask the Right Questions

    • 8. Summarize and Synthesize What's Being Said

    • 9. Come Up with a Concensus

    • 10. Be Sure to Take Care of Housekeeping Matters

    • 11. Make Your 1st Video Rehearsal

    • 12. Keep Going with the 2nd Video Rehearsal

    • 13. Give and Get Feedback

    • 14. Course Conclusion

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About This Class


Imagine yourself facilitating a major event featuring leading thinkers in your industry. You can lead discussions and bring out the best ideas from competing viewpoints.

In this How to Be a Facilitator course you will learn the following:

  • The difference between being a good speaker and a good facilitator
  • When and how to interrupt
  • How not to speak too much or too little
  • How to put the spotlight on other people ideas, not your own.
  • How to introduce other people properly

This course is delivered primarily through spoken lecture. Because the skill you are learning is speaking related, it only makes sense that you learn through speaking.

The skill you will learn in this class is not primarily theoretical or academic. It is a skill that requires physical habits. That is why you will be asked to take part in numerous exercises where you record yourself speaking on video, and then watching yourself. Learning presentation skills is like learning how to ride a bicycle. You simply have to do it numerous times and work past the wobbling and falling off parts until you get it right.

This course contain numerous video lectures plus several bonus books for your training library.

How long this course takes is up to you. The longest part of the course involves you speaking on video, critiquing yourself, and doing it over until you like it. But if you get to the point where you love how you look and sound when you present it will be well worth the time spent. And having this skill will save you time for all future presentations in your life.

You can begin improving your facilitation skills right now. You may have an opportunity to speak out as soon as tomorrow, so why waste another day worried that your facilitation and presentation skills are not up to high standards.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

TJ Walker

Public Speaking and Media Training Expert


TJ Walker is the founder of Media Training Worldwide and has been conducting public speaking training workshops and seminars since 1984. Walker has trained Presidents of countries, Prime Ministers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Super Bowl winners, US Senators, Miss Universes and Members of Parliament .

Walker has more than 100,000 online course enrollments and more than 100,000 online students.

His book, "Secret to Foolproof Presentations" was a USA Today # 1 Bestseller, as well as a Wall Street Journal, and Business Week Bestseller.

Walker is also the author of "Media Training AZ" and "Media Training Success."

In 2009, Walker set the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Talk Radio Appearances ever in a 24 hour period.

Walker has also served as a forme... See full profile

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1. Course Introduction: being a facilitator is a type of public speaking, but it's very different from other types of speaking or training or presenting as a facilitator. It's not your job to put a spotlight on yourself, your own ideas. It's your job to put a spotlight on the ideas of the other speakers. Thea, other Panelists, the other people in the room. It's to draw out different ideas, occasionally synthesize, to make people feel comfortable to foster conversation. And it's one of the rare types of speaking where the less you speak, quite often the more successful you are, the better you are. This course is gonna walk you through the steps you need to take in order to lead a successful facilitation. Let's start right now. 2. Reach Your Facilitating Goals: before you started facilitation. It's important to know what are the goals for this event, this conference, this meeting? What are people actually trying to accomplish? One of the organizers want the people who asked you to facilitate this or if it's your own initiative, What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to stop a civil war? Are you trying to stop a divorce or you're trying to bring people together? Are you trying to come up with new ideas for, ah products so that your business has a new strategy? Now it's important to know a general goal. You don't want to have something so incredibly specific that you then spend the time trying to shoehorn people into fitting in the preconceived notion in advance that doesn't work. You want there to be a free flow of ideas, an exchange of ideas and a building of ideas. But you do need to have some sense of where is this all headed? Why air we hear What are we building towards now? Different people can have wildly different views on what's right and wrong and how to do it and how to get there. But there needs to be some agreement on the very purpose of Y you're there. So that's the first thing you need to think about. I want you to think about an event, a meeting where you will be facilitating, and now, whether it's hypothetical or real, something you're doing for your job, think of what the purpose would be. Go ahead and plan that now. 3. Do Your Homework: other homework you need to do before the facilitation. You need to know Ah, lot of background about the subject that you're talking about in this facilitation. You don't have to be the expert and you're not there to give your opinions. But if you're going to be a good facilitator, you need to know the lay of the land. You need to know the basic philosophical debates people are going to be having. You need to know the key players that are involved in the discussion that surrounds this issue where there's a facilitation, so you're gonna have to do some homework. You need to talk to the people. Some of the Panelists are going to be speaking the other players involved, and you need to do more reading on it. Certainly, with the Internet these days, you can learn an awful lot about anything quickly again. It's not because you're going to be asked to give a 20 minutes speech if it's a two hour meeting and you're the facilitator, but you need to know enough so that you can synthesize occasionally so that you can understand that you can really understand what people are talking about because if you're standing there is a you know what this person is talking about. You're not going to be able to add value. A good facilitator adds value to the conversation to the debate, to the interplay. You're gonna need to know enough of a background so that when you hear someone perhaps putting forth a point and they're not very articulate, you can then synthesize their point in a way that everyone else will understand it. And yet no one feels like you're distorting that person's position. That's where having some grounding, having done your reading, having talked to the key players in advance will really help you. So it's not like preparation for a normal speech, because you're not going to be getting up and putting forth all your ideas. But the more you know about Aled, the ideas that are going to be talked about for at least the outlines of the debates, the better you will be at your job. So do your homework on the issues and really think about these issues in advance 4. Be Like Disraeli: There's a very famous quote about two prime ministers of Great Britain. It's relevant to your job as a facilitator. Ah, woman once remarked, She said, When I've had dinner with Prime Minister Gladstone, I feel like he's the smartest man in the country. When I have dinner with Prime Minister Disraeli, I feel like I'm the smartest woman in the country. You want to beat Israeli. When you are a facilitator, your job is not to make people think you're smart. Your job is to make the other speakers, the other presenters, the other talkers, the other people in the room sharing that their ideas to feel like they are the smartest. This is what takes for strength. This is where you have to have the impulse to shut your health, even if you think you can say it better, or if you think someone's gotten something wrong, so that should be your mindset is a facilitator putting the spotlight on other people, making other people look good? One of the ways of doing that is in the introduction. More on that in a moment 5. Make the Right Introductions: as a facilitator, You shouldn't be speaking for long stretches of times, but one of the areas where you can speak and where you can prepare What you're going to say is when you're introducing the other speakers, Thea other Panelists, the other people in the room Israel art to this, but it comes down to this. You need to be as brief as possible, but to give people the most essential, relevant information about that speaker that makes them imminently credible talking about this subject and that whets the appetite of the audience to hear from this person. That means you can't simply two minutes before the event starts to go to the person's Web page, print out an entire page of a violent and start reading. Mr. Smithers graduated from Williams College in 1982 and he passed the bar. It can't be a boring TD is introduction. You shouldn't be reading now. It's fine to glance down at notes. If you want to get a couple of the specifics in my butt, what I would do is really think about how can I introduce this person in, say, 30 seconds and give the most relevant information to this audience. So if you're having a facilitation on how your union or how your corporation should proceed in a very, very complicated labor negotiation and someone is speaking who saw one of the bigger, biggest labor crises in New York City five years earlier, I would mention that I wouldn't mention that and he graduated second in his class at Yale, lost going to the whole thing. Focus on what's most relevant, build this person up, put a spotlight on them and make people that Wow, this is someone really have to hear from your also boosting the ego of the person who's speaking. So give some real thought. It's a real preparation, and I would even go so far as to practice what you're going to say for these introduction. So I'd like you right now to plan right out an outline of one of the people who you're going to introduce in your facilitation, make them feel good, make the audience want to hear from them. 6. Stay In the Moment: as a facilitator, you have to be 100% in the moment. You can't be thinking about what am I going to say to make myself look smart. Five minutes from now, you can't be thinking about the lunch break necessarily. You had to be completely present listening to what people say so that you can synthesize appropriately so that you can ask questions that you can ask appropriate follow up questions. And that's why you've got to be comfortable on the stage. You need to be relaxed and yet realize people are looking at you. People are listening to you, and it takes a certain poise. This is also why the background, knowing the background of the issue is so important because you can't be think. What was he talking about there? She just used a bunch of initials. I don't know what it means. You've got to know the stuff, and that should allow you to be able to listen in the moment and understand what's going on . If you don't understand something, a good facilitator may say, You know what? I don't understand it, and I know about as much as everyone else. If I don't understand it. Other people in the room might not understand. And that's when you need to use your judgment to interrupt and say, Mr Smith is just for clarification on the last point. Do you mean because if you don't understand it and you know as much as everyone else in the audience does, that means the rest of the audience may be lost to. So you're doing a huge service to the rest of the room and the facilitation by occasionally stopping and trying to gain understanding. So that's why it's critically important that you are looking at the person speaking. You are listening and your mind is pretty much devoid of other thoughts and other agendas. Having that special presence of being in the moment is Cree is absolutely critical if you're going to be an excellent facilitator. 7. Ask the Right Questions: questions. Questions are critical. If you're going to be on excellent facilitator now, it's often said that a good attorney never asked a question of someone on the bench if he doesn't or she doesn't already know the answer. You're not an attorney. At least not in this role is a facilitator. So you actually want to ask questions that you know you don't know the answer to your trying to get new information. You're not trying to score points when someone hears you was a facilitator. Ask a question. They shouldn't come away with the impression that a You're trying to sound smart. B. You're just trying to make a point, and this is a thinly guise attempt to get your own views, your own ideology. In this, they need to really have a strong sense that you are asking a question that everyone else in the audience might ask if they could talk one on one with this person. You're also asking questions to bring greater clarity to something that was just said. You're also asking questions because of any confusions that might be there and you're asking questions because perhaps seeming contradictions in what one person said or between two people. You're asking questions to stimulate the conversation. To advance the conversation toe. Have it build toe, have it grow toe, have it go in new areas where people actually learn things and think about things in a new way. And that's why questions in a facilitation are incredibly different. Then the questions asked, for example, on Let's Say, the Bill O'Reilly Show or The Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC. I'm being bipartisan here. I'm using examples of well known political talk show host who are known for their ideologies. Their viewpoint. When they ask questions, it's to advance their cause and quite often, to make people who disagree with them look bad. Look foolish. Looks stupid. There's a role for that in political talk show land and political journalism. That's not what facilitation is about. So you need to ask riel questions if it seems too obvious if it seems stupid, if it seems stupid in the sense that everyone knows you already know. The answer, if you think is it may be a stupid question, but you just don't know and your knowledge basis similar to other people. Don't be afraid to ask a question Even if you're afraid someone might laugh at you, I'd much rather someone laugh at you for asking a stupid question. Then be sitting back there thinking, Oh, this person's tried to show how smart he is. You don't want to ask long, complex questions that air really just attempt to show people how smart you are. That's a trap I've seen many facilitator fall into. You're not the star speaker. You're not the star Panelist. You're not the star guest. You are the facilitator. So you're trying to pull is much out from others without this seeming like your show. And that's the big difference between being a talk show host versus a facilitator at the end of a talk show. People are talking about Bill O'Reilly or Oprah. They're talking about the host at the end of a facilitation. People should be talking about the other Panelists, the other speakers, the new ideas that came out. They shouldn't be talking about you. That's a critical critical point. So I want you to think right now for your own facilitation, the one you've been thinking about so far. How can you ask what? What questions will you ask to bring out more from people now. There's nothing wrong with having a few prepared questions that you'll ask all the Panelists to see how they respond to give equal time. But most of your questions should not be written out about. That's fine to think about them, to write them out. But I wouldn't be sitting there reading a bunch of questions to people. Most of your questions should be in reaction to something someone said, where you're trying to put more light on something clear up confusions, synthesise. That's the real power of questions, so start planning your questions now. 8. Summarize and Synthesize What's Being Said: synthesizing points. It's a critical function of being a facilitator. Let's say, for example, you have divided your event, your facilitation into three points. You've got an hour for each one. At some point during the end of that first hour, what you need to do is summarize. Synthesize the points. Put a label on who said what, how and some right without taking too long. If it's an hour to cover the first point of What do we think we should do for our new product for the next year? And you've had all the different product chiefs giving presentations, talking and you're the facilitator and it's been an hour of that are almost a Knauer. I would spend maybe 23 minutes synthesizing what people said. And the key is you've got to spend enough time really giving fair play to the central ideas that seem to gain the most prominence in the crowd. During the presentations in the conversation, the discussion. You don't wanna be too long and you don't want to be too short, and you don't want to distort or put your own spin on it. You are there to be somewhat neutral, objective and unbiased and put the focus on the ideas that have been presented. But to summarize it and where you really add value is where you can say, Well, this person said this this person said this this person said this, But the thing they all had in common was this. And that may be an avenue for people to work together in their own ways. When you consent the size in a way that doesn't make it sound like you're just advancing your own pet theories when you can show the commonalities in the various arguments and get people to think about how there is something where people could work together, similarities, commonalities. That's when you've really added value to the facilitation process. But again, be light handed about this. Remember the Disraeli comment. You want people to think they are the smartest people in the room, not you, but do keep in mind. You need to summarize, and you need to synthesize regularly, but don't dominate too much time throughout the entire facilitation 9. Come Up with a Concensus: beyond summarizing and synthesizing. Where you can really add the most value as a facilitator is, if you can really come up with a consensus of the group on what to do, facilitation usually happen because people aren't certain what to do. There is a problem. We don't know what to do yet we know people have ideas. We gotta figure out which way to go before we just all start going in a 1,000,000 different directions or we do nothing in the problem getting worse. So where you can add the most value is when you see that sometimes it's just look in people's eyes. But sometimes it's the way they articulate it. Is there actual consensus on a what the problem is, be what the solution is and see what are the immediate steps we need to dio now that doesn't come out of every facilitation? It's not always the goal of every facilitation, but it is a common goal of Hey, we have this problem. We gotta figure out what to do So as a facilitator, if you really have your pulse on the room, you're really listening. You're already on top of it. You've pulled the best ideas out of the people in the room for you to be able to then summarize those key points of We all agree this is the problem. We now seem to have huge agreement on the solution, and there also seems to be agreement on these 1st 3 steps. Now, maybe there's not that much agreement. Maybe there's an agreement on the problem, the solution, but still differences. On the 1st 3 steps, you can at least summarize what the top three prospects are for his immediate solution. So that is the final element that you really have to bring into. These facilitation is when you can don't try to push it. Don't say there's consensus. If there isn't, don't try toe artificially force solutions that have not yet emerged. But if one has emerged, you can shine. You can dig it out, shine it, polish it and put it up in front of the rest of the world in a much better way. If you are on top of your game as a facilitator, so always be looking throughout the whole facilitation for ways of bringing it all together . So there is some final action the group can take, and it is in fact, consensus 10. Be Sure to Take Care of Housekeeping Matters: their view. Other housekeeping matters you really have to have in mind if you're gonna be an expert facilitator for one. If it's more than an hour facilitation, if it's going to go into different day parts morning afternoon, you need to have a strong sense of the clock wanting stopping when he is starting. When are people going to be hungry? Expect lunch. You've got to be on top of all that. And if you see someone is winding up and they want to talk, But it's now 12 35 and lunch was gonna be ready at 12 30 your stomach is grumbling, you're going to politely ask the person if you could summarize and finish up in two minutes and you're gonna have the spotlight as soon as we come back from. Lunch is a more graceful way than saying at time. That's it. You need to know all the time clock issues, other housekeeping matters. You need to know how to pronounce each person's name. Some names are easy to pronounce for most people, other names air difficult. If you don't know, ask the person and if you think it's going to be rushed, the day, they called them in advance and ask them because people really hate it when their names were mispronouncing. They're getting ready to speak it. Stand up. In all of a sudden there name is pronounced, It can just really throw them for a loop. It also makes them not like you. So you need to know exactly how to pronounce the names. You need to have the time clock of where you want to be, How much time you want to spend on each item? Who's going to speak? You've got to be the grounds keeper of the referee, the UMP for this entire event. So please keep all that straight. I'd have a sheet of paper that's got the time. The names even have the pronunciation key if you need it when you're going to take a break for a restroom break to get letting people go to the bathroom. People are not going to be listening carefully if you've had them sitting there for 2.5 hours and they're used to getting a break every 90 minutes or so. So you've got to have a keen sense of what the audience is thinking that people involved. And I say audience, it could be a facilitation with three people or it could be 30 or 300 or 3000. You need to be aware of the people in the room there needs their once how they're feeling and keep everything on track. These air basic housekeeping matters. 11. Make Your 1st Video Rehearsal: Now it's time to practice. I want you to think of how you're going to introduce this facilitation again. This isn't a big speech. It's not a time to get up in or rate for 10 minutes or 20 minutes or even five minutes. But it is an opportunity to talk for a couple of minutes about the issues that are bringing us together. And what people's appetites for this. Before you introduce the first speaker, the first panel is the first person to talk. So I want you to practice a couple of things. Your introduction for the whole event, the whole topic. Make it less than two minutes, and I want you to practice introducing the first person again. I would make that less than 30 seconds, but really say the most interesting things about this person that are relevant to the audience that will wet their appetite. Then I'd like you to practice a conclusion for the whole event, and I realize you don't have that yet because you haven't conducted the facilitation. But this is an opportunity for you to test your own knowledge of the issue at hand. I want you to practice this, but in a particular way. I want you to practice it on video, and you could just hold your cell phone up recorded on cellphone video or a webcam. I want you to practice what you want to say. I'd like you to not be behind lecterns. You'll be much more effective. You'll be seen as much more confident and engaging if you're not standing behind a lectern . But regardless, I want you to practice on video, and then I want you to take notes of What do you like? What do you not like about every aspect of style and substance? Because, yeah, it's not about you and you're not the star speaker. But if the whole event is started off by someone, sort of. I'm looking down the whole time and monotone and reading and stammering and comes at us doesn't make people feel good about being there. It certainly doesn't make people feel good about you, even though you're not going to get a standing ovation as the greatest speaker in the world . If you're awful, people will remember that, and that can damage your reputation. So I want you to feel good about any time you're standing up and talk again. You're not presenting in the sense of giving a speech, but you are facilitating, and that is talking. You might even be sitting down around a conference table. That's okay, too, but I want you supremely confident and knowing how you're coming across what you're saying . So practice now on video, if you're going to be sitting for your facilitation, is in real life practice. It's sitting if you're going to be standing, practice standing, speak a couple minutes, introduction half a minute or so of introducing a particular person and then a minute or two summarizing what might have happened today. Lessons learned so total of about five minutes recorded. Now Grade yourself on every aspect of style and substance. Do that now. 12. Keep Going with the 2nd Video Rehearsal: if you didn't like that last exercise, it just means you're normal. Most people hate their voice. Most people don't like something about how they look or how they sound. But you know what? Everyone in the room has to see you. They have to hear your voice. So you might as well know how you're coming across so that you can come across your very best. So if you've done what I've asked and I certainly hope you have you recorded yourself, you have a list now of things you like a list of things you don't like in how you present it. I want you to do it again. Do the very same thing again captured on video this time, Try to do more of the stuff you like. Focus on one item of the things you don't like. So, for example, if you spoke too quickly, try to slow down the speech. If you were speaking too softly, try to boost the volume. If your eye contact was down the whole time cause you're reading let's get the eyes that focus on one thing. Do it again. Record it. Watch it again. Look at the likes looked at the dislikes. Now, if you've done what I've asked you to do, chances are you will see some improvement. You might still see 10 things you don't like. But if you literally focused on just one thing to fix, chances are you have done that. If you can eliminate one bad thing from any presentation, you now have a system to eliminate almost all your defects. You just have to keep practicing on video, watching it, analyzing it and doing it again and again. So this is the most TV ist part of the preparation. If you really want to be comfortable, confident and authoritative, any time you're speaking in front of the crowd for the facilitation. But it's the most important because if you don't practice on video and you just sort of get up and you're talking for the first time, you don't really know how you're coming across. There's a part of you think, am I making sense to Can people hear me? What do I do with my hands? All these self doubts creep into people when they are speaking for the first time, but if you practice on video, you're not gonna have doubts because you're gonna know how you look. So here's the key here. I want you to keep practicing on video. Keep critiquing yourself until you can point to the video and say, That's great. That's how I want to facilitate If I can facilitate happens, Role is that guy or that woman. I'll be the best facilitator of the event or of any event in this industry, and you're pointing to a video of yourself. That's what I need you to do now, for some of you may be one. Take its there like that. So I want to come across. That's me. It's interesting. It's the right tone. Perfect. You're ready to go. But for others of you, it may take five takes. 10. It may take 20 takes. Guess what the other people in the room don't care. They just want your best. So practice on video again and again as many times as it take and takes until you are happy with it. Because if you do that and you've seen video of yourself looking the way you want sounding , though you want moving the way you want, conveying the confidence you want speaking the speed and tone you want, then you got a role model for yourself and it's not me. It's not Professor Alan Dershowitz. It's not Ronald Ring. It's you. You have become your own role model, and that's gonna be easy for you to relate to. It's also going toe fill you with confidence when you do get up to start that facilitation , because you're going to know exactly how you look, how you sound and you're not going to be wallowing in any doubt about how the way love do I look stupid or sound stupid. This completely eliminates the possibility of getting nervous and uncomfortable and scared that the reason people are scared when they are giving presentations, whether it's a pills facilitation, keynote speech going on TV, the reason they're scared is fear of the unknown. Well, if you haven't actually seen yourself on video, you don't really know how you're coming across, so it makes sense. Toe have fear of the unknown because you might be awful. You might be monitored. You might be speaking in a way that so fast no one can understand you. But that's not going to happen to you because you will have practiced on video again and again until you like what you see. That way you don't have to have any doubt when you're there doing the facilitation for real . So please don't skip this part. It's critically important. Keep practicing on video. Your intro to the whole facilitation, your introductions to at least one person and your summary at the end Do that now. 13. Give and Get Feedback: If you really want a master, the skills were talking about today. If you truly want to be a world class communicator, then you're gonna have to get feedback. Ask your friends, family members, colleagues, other executives to rate how you're doing with every aspect of your presentation. I'm a big believer in this, and I don't just talk about it. I practice it, too, so I want your feedback. So what I would ask is, now that we're almost done with his course, take just a moment and go to the feedback portion of this course and write a review. No, I certainly hope you give me a five star review, but I want you to be honest, tell me what was valuable in this course and write it out and tell me where it can improve . Now I think I'm good. But one of the reasons I think I'm good is that I've always listened throughout my career to people who didn't like something about how I communicated, and I listened to it, and I tried to make adjustments to improve it. Tiny little improvements every time I speak. So I'm asking as a favor to me and for future students, so we can continue to make this course get better and better. Take just a moment to write a review in the official feedback section of this course. 14. Course Conclusion: I hope you have a much better sense now of how to be a facilitator and how to be a good facilitator. When a good facilitation takes place, something almost magical happens. I hate to use the overused, trite word of synergy, but a good facilitation does create synergy. There are these new ideas that are bigger and better than the sum of the parts of the ideas of the individuals use. A facilitator can make that happen, and rather than you getting all the glory and the spotlight on you and your ideas, the spotlight is going to be on the ideas of the collective group and how it's going to help your organization. And you'll get some credit, too. Don't worry. So please remember the basics. It's not about you. It's about bringing out the best of the ideas in the room. It's not about you getting the glory. It's about putting a spotlight on the individual speakers, asking interesting, insightful questions that really bring out the most synthesizing the ideas and then finding consensus of what the group should do. Do that and you will be a successful facilitator. I'm t J Walker. Thanks for joining me