In PALS, the best facilitation is ‘from the back’ where the facilitator empowers participants to express themselves. PALS facilitation skills are very different from those taught in many other ‘facilitation’ trainings, but the approach leads to more effective and sustainable change outcomes. Through encouraging participants to speak and asking a few pointed questions, 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
- Pairwise discussion: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.
- Start from the back or with minority participants 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.
- introduce some sort of tool such as a stick or a banana to represent a microphone. It is only the person holding this tool who is allowed to talk.
- Applause and respect for everyone at all times through a culturally relevant show of appreciation following each presentation.
- No political correctness No one should feel they cannot ask questions or say things which they feel – provided this is done in a real spirit of wanting to understand and does not undermine the free expression of others.
- 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.