Building Our Facilitation Toolkit

I’ve always known that there are a lot of tools I can draw on as a facilitator, but IAFNA 2015 drove home for me just how varied those tools can be. IAFNA 2015 was this year’s annual Americas conference of the International Association of Facilitators, held May 14-16 in Banff, Alberta.

The program included sessions on visual facilitation, virtual facilitation, strategic planning, change management, Lego Serious Play, Agile facilitation, innovative brainstorming, Rapid Alignment, digital mind maps, integrating sculpture and facilitation, and that’s only a partial list of the sessions I didn’t attend!

It was frustrating not to be able to take in more sessions, but as in all things choices had to be made. The sessions I attended did not disappoint, and each of them left me with concepts or tools that I can integrate into my facilitation practice:

  • “Station”-ary Movement: Options when You Have Lots of People, Lots to Do, and Not Much Time (Dr. Rebecca Sutherns) – the title says it all, and the ideas will be particularly useful with large groups
  • Facilitating Mindful Innovation: Reaching New Heights and Insights through Mindfulness Teachings (Caitlin Hendrickson) – practices to help participants – and myself – be fully present to what is happening in the room
  • Collecting Stories: Promising Practices in Aboriginal Employment Model (Miriam Mahnic and Winona Lafrenière) – an effective technique that starts with participant stories to draw out key factors, principles, etc. (and one that I was able to apply in my own session on responding to participant challenges!)
  • Fake Handbags and Phones: Proven Results in the Real World (Peter Paul) – a process to quickly set priorities under less than ideal circumstances
  • Professional Heights & Personal Insights: Constellation Experiences to Empower Your Facilitation Practice (Kim Leischner) – activities to tap into the energy of a system (in addition to new insights into my gifts and blind spots as a facilitator)

IAF conferences are one way to continue to build our toolkits and broaden our horizons as facilitators – what else do you use? How do you build your skills and acquire new techniques and tools?