How to Pick the Best Facilitated Activities

How do you decide from among the hundreds of possible facilitated activities, which ones will be best for your meeting, session or workshop? In this blog, we review five important factors to consider as you design your agenda and select your best group activities: 1) type of system; 2) workshop purpose; 3) group size; 4) participant mindset; and 5) your level of mastery.

Are You Choosing the Right Facilitation Activities for the Work?

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you'll tend to view every problem as a nail." -- Abraham Maslow

Good facilitators have many tools in their methods toolkit. This supports greater scope, flexibility and ability to custom-design and facilitate exactly the right group activities for each meeting, work session and workshop. But how do you go about making that decision? There are literally hundreds of different type of facilitated activities. So it's important for you to be very deliberate and strategic so that you're picking the right activities for the work. Here are five factors to consider: system purpose, size and group mindset and your own skill and confidence.

Five Factors to Help You Pick the Best Activities

  • Type of System. Are you working within an intact team inside an organization? Perhaps with the entire organization? Or are you working primarily with a community group? A multi-disciplinary or multi-stakeholder group? Some activities are more suitable for internal organizational work, while others are well suited for diverse participant groups, contrast say, process improvement with community input and feedback.
  • Workshop Purpose. More complex, technical and involved activities are usually possible when working within an organizational context, since group members have more in common, including tools, vocabulary and values. In a community setting, there is usually greater diversity and far less consistency of tech tools and other foundations like culture, history, and priorities.
  • Size of Group. What size group is being convened? A small group can do significantly more work in a period of time than a large group, if the goal is to go beyond discussion to actively engage participants in interactive activities. The larger the group, the longer the time required for any activity. Be hyper-realistic with what can be completed in your agenda for your size group, especially online.
  • Participant Mindset. There are two aspects to mindset: the first is the temporal focus - whether you're asking participants to focus on the past, present, future or some combination thereof. The second relates to the desired thinking mode most aligned with the agenda item being facilitated. Some activities invite analysis; others foster generative and creative thinking, while still others ask participants to deliberate, evaluate, or decide.
  • Level of Mastery. The fifth factor, and certainly not the least, is your own present level of skill and confidence. Sometimes you must accept that the best activities are constrained by your current facilitation mastery. If you're just starting out, pick straightforward activities that you can lead with confidence. Mastery is an ongoing journey. Ideally in a flow state, you can choose to try out only 1 new activity at a time - just the right degree of challenge and learning for you to keep growing and sharpening your saw, without becoming stressed and overwhelmed. Your participants will thank you too!

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Take our free webinar – Facilitate Like A Pro: Go Beyond Discussion on Zoom and Lead Productive Online Group Work and get the 5 critical steps to planning any successful work session.  

Master Your Workshop Designs

With Facilitating Online Collaboration - our comprehensive, step-by-step 9-module online course, you will know how to:

  • Start With the Right Foundation of facilitation concepts and tech tools for the work.
  • Invest in Solid Preparation to plan, scope out, design and set-up good online process.
  • Facilitate Great Sessions for focused, productive, aligning and time-efficient results.

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