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Welcome & Introductions

Osbert Lancaster:

  • Facilitator and adviser on social change for sustainability
  • Will be facilitating the consultation events at Nairn & Ayr on community benefit and offshore renewables
  • Leading training session for facilitators before each consultation

Purpose of this session:

  • for Osbert to understand experience and needs of participants to design training sessions
  • for participants to share their experience of good facilitation practice with each other

How we’ll run this session:

  • I can’t see you so I don’t know if you want to speak, so I’ll ask people in turn to contribute.
  • I’ll try and take notes on this webpage, as a virtual flip chart. You will need to refresh your browser from time to time to update the page.
  • Have a pen and paper handy: I’ll be asking you to make notes of things for discussion.

Participants’ Introductions:

  • name & role
  • one word that comes to mind when you think about facilitation
  • anything else I might need to know: e.g. you have to leave this session early; you won’t be at the face to face session.

Good facilitation: building on your experience

Think of an example of good facilitation that you were involved with e.g.:

  • a session that went smoothly
  • a problem arose that was addressed well

You might have been the facilitator or a participant. Might have been a formal facilitated event or a meeting.

Tell us the story…

While you’re listening to others tell their story, take a note of reasons why the was a successful facilitation.

Key lessons?

Rab: LES Glasgow, Conference. Running w/shop. Went OK; too much background noise, too much movement, seating poor no time to change. Physically it was difficult. Some speakers went on too long, extraneous stuff. Audience receptive in first session, and good dialogue. Second session less good, should have stepped into to manage the session.

Iona: CCF event. Lots of prep and info in advance. Max 12 in group. Everyone able to take part in convo. Round table intros. If things went quiet, facilitator had questions. Separate notetaker. Paper on table to record info. F v encouraging, people felt they could speak. Would encouraged peopled to talk. When people went off topic, said ‘thank’s and brought people balck.

James: Meeting w Nicolas and others. FIT. Contentious subject. Even thought N was expert, he didn’t get involved in subject, focused on process. Prob had answer, allowed group to discover their own answers.

Pete: Facilitating at conf. Preparation and letting folk now what the session is about. Having the right people around the table. Room set up. Lots of note taking.

Ruth: Team meeting yesterday. Training exercise - F kept everything moving timewise, everyone knew what the process was, what was expected of them.

Madeline: Hydro event. No more 20 people, invite only - find much easier. Time to prep room and ensure seating appropriate. Key was preparation. Focus on process, not subject. Keeping everyone on track, process fertile for productive discussion.

Susan: family discussion. Promoting communication, not let emotions run too high.


Being clear about the purpose of the event

Know the audience

Different people have different objectives

Clear timescale


Organising the room

Well laid out

round table for taking notes


people can see each other: different arrangements - circles can be good, less formal, warming and closer



being flexible

Defining the role of the chair

listening carefully:

  • key points to progress the conversation
  • key points can be stimulus of the discussion: new ideas can open stuff up. Thank people, remind people of purpose, ask them if they want to discuss it now.

aware of role as leading process, rather than imparting information

chairs have a lot of knowledge, can be good to if they share that. If it’s helpful to the situation, e.g. specific knowledge of policy. Can be helpful to keep conversation.

knowing basic stuff about the venue

Lack of ego


Separate scribe

Objectivity, transparent


Calm atmosphere


keep discussion on track, so everyone knows where they are going, can indicate things that have been achieved, give them opportunity to comment


Dealing with people with own agenda

What would help you:

  • at the offshore renewables events?
  • generally as a facilitator?

clear outcomes

Dealing with people with own agenda

Body language

Deal with people who are dominating conversation

People who just want to make their own their point

Not to allow contentious issues to dominate. Give everyone is heard and their views recorded

Positive body language, how to be postive

How to maintain focus and not switch off if its a dry subject