Facilitating your session
- As the facilitator, you have to enter the consultation with an open mind. Remember that you asked people to share their opinions, so it’s important that you listen and take on board their feedback without imposing your own opinion (even if you don’t agree).
- Keep the room focussed. You might have to ask your participants to “park” an idea for revisiting later or outside of the session if things start to get off topic. It is also important to make sure participants understand how their feedback will be used and who it will be shared with.
- Another role of facilitator is to make sure there is enough safety within the group for all the participants to share their thoughts and opinions. It might be helpful to start the session by asking the participants to help create some group “rules” or “boundaries” they can agree with to support everyone to feel safe to express their views. If the group are struggling to think of any, you could make a couple of suggestions to get things started. Things like, “be respectful of others opinions”, “give everyone a chance to speak”, “no interrupting” and “there are no silly questions” are a good starting point.
- If conflict or difference in opinion arises during your session, it is your role as facilitator to manage this and make sure everyone feels heard throughout the consultation. Sometimes you might need to call a break or put a discussion on hold if you feel things are getting heated.
- If a topic you are discussing is potentially triggering or upsetting to members of your group, make sure you have a co facilitator available, and let participants know that if they need to take a break, they can step outside at any time, and that your co-facilitator will check in with them to make sure they are ok.
- If you are new to facilitation or not feeling confident, it might be a good idea to bring in an external facilitator to run the session for you.
Please watch this short video – 5 tips for inviting people to participate in community consultations.