Dare to facilitate

May 25, 2016 | Blog-Admin1 | Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools |


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Facilitation is (also) a question of confidence, of daring to “stand there” and to be the facilitator. But first facilitation is a question of good preparation and of getting the 3 Ps clear: purpose, people and process. The key task of a facilitator is helping the organisers to clarify the purpose of the workshop, to understand people’s needs and questions, and to design a good process that is interactive, relevant and meaningful. 

Nadia von Holzen, SDC 

Patrick 6
Facilitating a workshop is contributing to collaboration and cooperation. A workshop must not always be led by a professional facilitator; within SDC many workshops are facilitated internally. Especially in the context of knowledge networks there are many opportunities for colleagues to step into the shoes of the facilitator. I can tell you this is a rewarding task. I am not the only one who thinks so!

Good preparation is key

What it needs is good preparation. The key task of a facilitator is helping the organisers clarify the purpose of the workshop, to understand people’s needs and questions, and to design a good process that is interactive, relevant and meaningful. These three Ps – purpose, people and process- must be clear.

Peer exchange and coaching among facilitators

Many SDC workshops are facilitated by colleagues. For this reason we have a group of facilitating colleagues supporting the Learning & Networking team. And this is fabulous.

The Learning & Networking team is supporting internal facilitators through advice, experience sharing and a collection of methods. We meet twice a year to reflect on our experiences, exchange questions and experiment with novel methods. Through this group we strengthen our facilitation skills.

Stand there

When the workshop starts the facilitator “stands there”*. Yes, being the facilitator is also a question of confidence.


*Read the fabulous book: Don’t just do something, stand there! Ten principles for Leading Meetings that matter. By Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff.

Related stories


Comments to“Dare to facilitate”

  1. Thank you Nadia, and the team, for your wonderful perspective of the facilitator’s role. I appreciate your video story, and how you integrate the drawings, photos and your story. I especially love how you inspire others to take on the role of the facilitator.

    Which one book on facilitation would you recommend reading for a beginner facilitator? Would it be: Don’t just do something, stand there!
    Would you recommend a different one for an experienced facilitator? Or would it be the same?

  2. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Thank you Veronique, there are some good books; next to Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! by Marvin Weisbrod and Sandra Janoff I would name:

    Creative Facilitation by Johnnie Moore and Viv McWaters
    Knowledge Sharing for Change – Designing and Facilitating Learning Processes with a Transformative Impact by IngeniousPeopleKnowledge
    Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner

    And which one would you recommend?
    Best, Nadia

  3. Nathalie Wyser says:

    Hey Nadia! Many thanks and congrats to your good input and the excellent video! So much content and inspiration with only so few words, fotos and drawings!
    I ordered the book “don’t just do something, stand there” at infodesk. Our colleagues there told me that it should arrive soon and will then be available to everyone at SDC.

  4. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Nathalie, thanks a lot this is a great initiative! Best, Nadia


Leave a Reply