It takes much practice, assessing each individual group and trusting your instincts to move a group of strangers forward… and you can do it! Here are some facilitation skills that can work:

Setting a Positive Tone. Be enthusiastic! If your energy is positive, your participants’ will be too.

Establishing Ground Rules. Challenge the group to create rules for engagement. Empower them to call one another on violations and to make amendments when necessary.

Encouraging Ownership. Have progressive discussions (non-threatening to riskier). Make sure participants make “I” statements. Encourage students to own the group’s time and how it is spent, by asking them to propose topics for future discussion and exploration. Write the topics down and make an intentional effort to include them in upcoming gatherings.

Scanning the Group. Redirect comments to the group. Be sure to watch for nonverbal cues.

Listening Actively. Pay attention to content, voice and body language.

Asking Questions. Explore answers and probe by asking open-ending questions. Demonstrate a sincere interest in listening.

Self-Disclosing Appropriately. Be open and willing to share personal experiences, when appropriate, to increase comfort and risk taking in the group.

Facilitating First, Participating Second. Be willing to share, yet be careful not to shift the focus of the group onto yourself.

Not Being a Know It All. It is always okay to admit that you do not know something. You are not expected to have all of the answers.

Reflecting and Summarizing. Restate comments to convey understanding and always try to capture the essence of what has been shared. This helps tighten the focus of the group.

Identifying Allies. Identify those participants who you can count on to be cooperative and positive, yet be careful not to play favorites.

Accepting Silence. Be sure to give sufficient time between asking questions and wanting responses. Count to ten to make sure people have enough time to gather their thoughts and speak.

Role Modeling What You Are Teaching. Engage in continual personal reflection so you can improve yourself. The more you know yourself and your style, the better your skills in facilitating different groups will be.

Discover many other training tools like this in our Residence Life Training Package: Tools, Strategies & Activities for Staff Training & Development.

And join our webinar on RA Training: New Considerations to Incorporate Problem Solving, Intervention, Community Building & Crisis Response on May 24 from 2-3:30 pm (ET).