Simply defined, a facilitator is one who skillfully assists a group of people identify the common goals and plan to achieve them.
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A facilitator takes an unbiased approach to these goals, making it possible to achieve consensus during times of disagreement and refocus the group on the common objective of programme.
In this case, the facilitator is a player, but one makes sure things happen in a way that will ensure intended goals are achieved.
In order to be successful in that endeavour, the facilitator needs to pay attention to the following principles of facilitations which require him/her to have extensive knowledge of the group.
As a facilitator you need to direct your instruction at more than one sense at a time.
It is critical to be aware that for learning to occur, learners or participants must perceive information by using their five senses. Each of these senses has different processing capabilities which need to be well understood.
It has been observed that almost 95% of our sensory input is provided by sight and hearing.
However, it must be realised that there is need to engage more senses, so as to perceive more.
An effective facilitator also needs to limit the amount of information provided to participants.
In order to do so there is need to focus on the critical content to facilitate the information processing. Once information is perceived, it must be processed by the brain.
Taking into account that the short term memory capacity of the brain is limited, there is need to think seriously about the amount and level of information passed on to the participants in a given time.
Another critical principle of effective facilitation is to think about the kind of information that we pass on to the participants in terms of what they bring into the learning environment.
An effective facilitator will always strive to create messages that capture participants’ attention and are relevant to their needs.
It may prove to be necessary to use examples and analogies that relate to the participants’ previous experiences. It has been realised that in a given day, our senses are bombarded with thousands of pieces of information. That being the case, the human brain and nervous system automatically select what is relevant at that particular time.
Information that captures our attention and is relevant to the participant is more likely to be processed and moved into long term memory.
An effective facilitator will always organise information to be present into meaningful “bits”. This can be achieved through the use of strategies which require participants to link new information with prior knowledge.
The use of metaphors, graphs, tables and images may prove useful in encouraging this process. Do not also forget to provide plenty of opportunities for your participants to “practice” using new information. The more information is used, the more likely it is to be remembered.
Finally, an effective facilitator will always assess the knowledge, ability and motivation of the participants. If the participants have limited prior knowledge, an effective facilitator will organise information into usable “chunks” while explaining concepts using easily understood analogies and examples.
The facilitator should also provide plenty of opportunities for participants to practice using the information acquired.
It is therefore also important to create an environment where you motivate the participants by showing them the relevance of the information you are sharing with them and explain how it will benefit them.
Paul Nyausaru is Training & Development Practitioner.
You can contact him on email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Views contained in this article are personal