What Exactly Is a Facilitator and How Can They Help You?

If you are a business owner, you know how important communication is in being successful. If you are unable to effectively speak with your employees, the results can be disastrous for overall company productivity and performance. If you need help getting messages across more efficiently in monthly staff meetings or if you require a complete overhaul of your firms existing practices, professional assistance is available. There is a wealth of experts (independent contractors and large-scale corporations) that specialize in the niche of facilitation. Known simply as facilitators, these people are skilled in the art of corporate communication. They have a unique skill-set that can address and fix many common workplace issues, including dispute resolution, leadership enhancement, lack of member participation, action planning and strategy development.

What does a Facilitator do and Why do you need One?

The field of facilitation is so diverse that most professionals tend to specialize in a specific area, although many are qualified to teach and train clients across the board. No matter what industry you work in, the benefits of hiring a corporate facilitator are too great to pass up. In this economy, there is very little room for miscommunication errors; one wrong move and a project can be set back, resulting in lost profits and lost customers. Thus, when you hire a facilitator to reorganize your company’s practices, you are making a solid long-term investment. The great thing about facilitation methods is that they can easily be learned and applied by business owners and designated team-lead employees. There are many corporate facilitation firms that offer training seminars and hands-on sessions in this regard, so be sure to research your options. Here are just a few of the benefits that hiring a facilitator can bring to your firm!

The Benefits of Hiring a Facilitator

  • They can help find solutions to problems when you have run out of ideas
  • They can a fresh perspective and unbiased third-party insight into your company’s existing organizational methods
  • They can mobilize employees and make them want to participate; uninterested or unruly staff is a problem many business owners face, and it is not always easy to resolve these issues
  • A facilitator will help increase your bottom line; when productivity and profit are at stake, expert help is a must-have resource
  • Most facilitators offer training sessions or courses that can give owners and key employees the skills they need to employ effective facilitation methods long after the contractor is gone

Easy-To-Use System For Approaching Niche Product

Let’s get started with this interesting fact. You are likely to make more money online selling a niche product rather than a business product. There are just too many people trying to promote a self improvement on business product these days. You are better off selling a niche product where you can actually target your customer more accurately.

One good way in which to approach any niche product research phase is to setup multiple content sites that are monetized with AdSense ads. I am pretty sure you have already heard this word, “CONTENT IS KING”! Well my dear friend, it still is. The best way to do this is by writing a 400 – 600 words article and put it into your website. If you can’t write one, just hire a ghost writer but you have to spend some of your money for them to produce your desire article.

If a given site starts generating a considerable amount of natural traffic, test out some affiliate links. You might be surprise when people start purchasing your affiliate product. Once the traffic is in, you have the power in your hand to make money by not doing anything. That is kind of cool, isn’t it?

Once you are making lots of profit from your affiliate product, then begin working on your own product for that niche. At first, it might be hard for you to do this but if you put your heart into it, you will make more money than you could possible imagine.

Make an attempt to brand your niche product. For instance, you could use an interesting concept in Butterfly Marketing written by TOP Internet Marketer, Mike Filsaime or you could use your own name, especially if you have a considerable amount of knowledge in your own industry. Branding will help your product gain notoriety; and will also facilitate the creation of pre-launch ‘buzz.’

If you feel lost, re-read the section above about the importance of content and ‘buzz’, once you have done that, we will move on to the next step on approaching any niche product.

Purchase a program that allows you to create your own software. This will help you to expand your niche product creation abilities beyond simply creating an executable e-book or a PDF. Additionally, software has a higher perceived value, which means it is likely to convert better than other options. However, this will vary from niche to niche. If you are wondering how the top Internet Marketer make their money online, the answer is they used or purchased themselves a good software to expedite their sales.

If you do not currently have potential customers for your product, all you need to do is performing a preliminary scan of the market to determine whether or not a product launch will be viable. For instance, is competition far too dense? Do competing sites refuse to participate with each other out of fear that it will dwindle their customer bases to nothing? Keep on asking yourself a few questions before you decide to join any niches product.

If you have sites that already receive natural search engine traffic for a given niche, consider setting up polls on those sites to determine what your best course of action might be in terms of product creation. For instance, ask your visitors what type of product they want – software, e-books, videos, audios, or something else entirely.

Begin testing this idea right away and start making money online with a niche product. Trust me, if you follow this simple guidelines, your dreams of earning 5 to 6 figure incomes and fire your boss at the same time is just right at the corner.

Meeting Facilitator – Now Performing As Director – Conductor – Coach and Choreographer

Imagine an orchestra without a conductor; the strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion all reading the music on their own could result cacophony instead of symphony.  What if The Producers had no director or choreographer; those little old ladies would be knocking each other over with their walkers.  A football team without a playbook would be little more than a sandlot game.

The same holds true for a planning meeting without a facilitator. We’ve all sat through countless meetings that went nowhere. Even with an agenda and knowing essentially what you want to get out of the meeting, it often takes a skilled facilitator to get everyone participating, keeping them civil and driving the discussion to a clear result.

The facilitator is more than just a meeting guide.  Much like the orchestra conductor, a theater director/choreographer or football coach, it is their responsibility to plan, run and bring the meeting to a clear conclusion.

It is not the facilitator’s job to solve problems or to push their own agenda (no matter how well-disguised).

It is the facilitator’s job to simply allow people in the group to work through their thoughts and feelings through the process of discussion by actively listening and creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable participating.

So what should you expect from a good facilitator?  Here are the 8 qualities and skills that a good facilitator must use to extract the best ideas and thoughts from even the most reluctant participants: 

  1. Knowledgeable researcher: Before the meeting starts, the facilitator gathers as much information as possible to ensure they understand the topic enough to guide the exploration of issues, ideas and thoughts. Often the facilitator will request to interview key participants to uncover any potential issues or information that could help to keep the discussion productive.
  2. Objective, patient listener: Generally, the less connected the facilitator is to the participants, the better; making it easier to ensure that every one is heard equally.  It is the facilitator’s job to make sure that all participants feel comfortable participating, and to encourage everyone to engage in the discussion. Perhaps the greatest skill of a facilitator is an ability to patiently listen to sometimes rambling ideas or thoughts and then capturing them clearly, without losing the emotion or intent. It can be hard to not turn one person’s thought into what you think it should be rather than what they meant it to be. 
  3. Organized choreographer: The facilitator either prepares the agenda for the meeting or works with the meeting sponsor to outline areas to be covered. Then, it is the facilitator’s job to keep everyone on track and to document the discussion as it unfolds.  Using whiteboards or flip charts, the facilitator often papers the meeting room walls with the notes, charts and ideas, regularly tracking all of it back to the original agenda.
  4. Focused conductor: Any creative discussion will naturally wander. It’s on these detours that the best ideas often emerge. While the agenda may not be followed in order, the facilitator always knows the way back. They can quickly adapt and encourage a creative discussion, ensuring that everyone gets their say. Then document the ideas or issues as they guide the discussion back on topic.
  5. Devil’s advocate: In every meeting there is at least one elephant in the room; that question or issue that no one wants to mention. This is where pre-meeting interviews and topic research help a facilitator become aware of these issues so they can safely and subtly bring them forward for discussion. They can also push back on ideas with flip side thoughts that can encourage broader, more creative discussion.
  6. Coach and mediator:  Every group has different dynamics, with standout and reluctant participants. If executives are part of the group, they can sometimes inhibit open participation. The facilitator must break down barriers with humor, insights and direct questions. If confrontations or arguments do erupt, the facilitator must quickly regain control, make sure both sides are heard, and then get everyone back on track.
  7. Face and body language reader:  It takes practice and sensitivity to notice the silent signals when people become unhappy, angry, distracted or upset. A good facilitator listens for what is not said and finds ways to engage these people in a positive and supportive way.
  8. Great closer: Tying is all together at the end and making sure there are no issues hanging, nothing left unsaid, and no one feeling left out is perhaps the most critical skill of a facilitator. Recapping the topic by running quickly across the wall charts, then outlining next steps and any assignments gets everyone on the same page to move forward.

Think about bringing in a skilled facilitator to orchestrate your next critical meeting. The results can be amazing and the process can be much more fun than you imagine when you get to sit back and participate.