General Facilitation Principles
Facilitation from the back
The facilitator should sit at the back for 90% of the time. A seat should be put at the front with all pens and materials so that the facilitator does not need to hold the pen so that very quickly participants will be able to facilitate themselves Through encouraging participants to speak and asking a few pointed questions at the end, good facilitation manages to arrive at a point where most of the important issues come from participants themselves. Participants are then in turn able to facilitate similar activities without external support when they go back home.
This requires practice and experience – and often a leap of faith to let things take their course – and is hard even for those trained in many other participatory awareness-raising and training techniques. It also requires intense observation of the participatory process, and use of some key techniques to increase participation.
equal participation: Listening as important as talking
In group discussions everyone’s voice much be heard. No one person should lead group facilitation. Every person should draw. Every person should come to the front to speak. Every person should listen. Lead facilitators should ensure that no one person is dominating, people encourage those who are quiet, or hidden at the back come forward. Introduce some sort of tool in group discussions such as a stick or a banana to represent a microphone. It is only the person holding this tool who is allowed to talk.
No political correctness
No one should feel they cannot ask questions or say things which they feel. Unless all opinions are expressed, even those that are uncomfortable, they cannot addressed. If issues or views are very sensitive and likely to cause offence, the facilitator should divide participants into ‘soulmate groups’ to enable those from similar backgrounds and with similar views to ‘let off steam’ and work out how to articulate these views to others in a real spirit of wanting to understand, without offence or undermining the free expression of others. Some issues can be left ‘in the drawer for later’ if they detract from the spirit of moving forward on consensus – with a date for when they will be tackled.
facilitation skills practised by participants
Facilitation practice for participants is an integral part of the facilitation and workshop schedule. This includes:
- participatory diagrams and quantification in group activities to practice visual communication skills and speaking in front of others
- facilitation role plays to practise the tools as well as sharing
- sharing each evening with family if the workshop in in the community
- sharing the tools with local government and other stakeholders on a onto to one basis and presentation of diagrams
- a community day or series of days at the end where each participant invites 10 other people from their networks and facilitates these people to draw their visions and vision journey. To disseminate the change messages, start the community upscaling and set up support networks.
Workshops start with participant discussions
Workshops should start by participants talking to each other, not [presentations by the organisation, local leaders or facilitator. The facilitator should explain that GAMEChange methodology is different – first we listen and then adapt as far as possible to participant needs – or to clarify that some needs will need to be addressed in another workshop.
Ask local leaders and other stakeholders to come on the final day, not the first day. Then they will have something to really see from what participants have been doing. And their input and support will be very welcome at that point.
Prepare the Room
The room should be decorated with good examples of diagrams and drawings relevant to the training from other processes – if this is the first country process then make a panel of printouts of high resolution photographs from Linda Mayoux visual communications Zemni Image site. If possible put on songs and/or video from another GAMEChange process (eg through the You Tube downloads from this site) playing as people arrive. These can also be shown in breaks.
The seating must be arranged to prioritise group discussion and feedback on flipcharts by each group. Leaving a central space in the middle for songs and drama. Ideally participants will stand and move around for group sessions, and go to the group flipcharts for plenaries.
Start each session/day with a participatory pairwise recapitulation of the previous session, or questions on perceptions and expectations of the meeting while others are arriving.
Feedback from the back
Minority participants should go first in all feedback (e.g. men first if they are poor and fewer in number) to show respect for those who are likely to be less confident and to promote inclusion.
Applause and respect
Everyone’s contribution at all times should be appreciated through a culturally relevant form of applause following each presentation.
Make sure everyone has contributed
At the end of each stage anyone who has not spoken or drawn on the diagram must be given the ‘microphone’ or pen and encouraged to comment/draw on the diagram. Those who speak least in the group should be the ones to feed back to the plenary, supported by the others.
evaluation through photography documentation
Photography and video can be taken by the facilitator in breaks to document the workshop process and dynamics – if they are facilitating from the back. Just before the final day to select their favourite diagram and take a photograph of them as a participation certificate. Comparing both choices and the quality of the diagrams enables an objective assessment of how far EVERY participant has been inspired and able to vision, analyse, plan and share. It also enables the workshop to end on an uplifting song or event, rather than a tired and untransparent participatory feedback – though a pictorial questionnaire could be circulated as well as a pictorial mood chart through the workshop.