Taking stock: facilitation videos

So what videos about facilitation are out there?

This was a question one of my ‘group facilitation skills‘ trainees asked me last week. I didn’t know what to say. I learned facilitation all by myself, observing others and reading and observing my own practice, until I got myself trained on group facilitation skills last year.

So I had to dig for those videos…

And I have to say, I’ve been left hungry on this one… Rather unimpressed with the top suggestions by supposedly omniscient Google.

But I have to do due diligence to the people who asked the question to me. So hereby a tour of facilitation videos I personally encountered, with my short commentary on them. There are many more videos I checked but not enough was worthy (in my eyes) of sharing those videos for.

So here you are for my totally subjective take on useful facilitation videos. They are split between videos that a) explain generally what facilitation is and what facilitators do, b) share some tips and tricks for more effective facilitation and c) show in practice what it looks like.

What is facilitation, who are facilitators, generally?

The art of facilitation

This TedX video is by a facilitator (Jay Vogt) introduces what facilitation is for him and highlights his specific experience, whose aim is to “transform the way we meet”… It’s a bit longer than the other videos but really shares some of the ‘what happens when there’s no facilitation’ and Jay Vogt gives me the idea he’s got a practice that I would really value. Selfless, supportive, engaging. A good introduction!

Facilitation best & worst practices

Already introduced in my last post, this video features – in an animated whiteboard kind of format – some of the fundamentally good and fundamentally wrong practices that facilitators (might end up) do(ing). I don’t agree with everything (e.g. documentation is not necessary a requirement for facilitators) here but roughly this video is getting it ‘right’ (in my totally objective opinion ahem).

What do facilitators do

This video is probably the closest to explaining what a facilitator is. You can also read my recent post clarifying what a facilitator does, as opposed to a moderator, chair, MC etc.  In that same post I covered this video in more details. Even though I’m not raving about the video itself it’s probably the most sincere attempt at explaining what facilitation really is.

Four essential functions to facilitating meetings

The set up of this video is a bit strange but the tips given are also on the ball – with my reserves on the drawing/documenting at the same time as facilitating, and on the fourth part where this type of facilitation seems to also push to consensus.

Some tips…

Facilitation tips and tricks for newbies

Viv McWaters is one of the facilitators that is listed on the list of background resources on this blog and for good reason. In this long recorded webinar (47’06”) that unfortunately has a not-all-too-great sound, McWaters explains very articulately the moments when you need a facilitator (e.g. when you’re stuck / when you need to frame / when you need to disrupt) and gives five tips and tricks for facilitation groups. This is possibly the best video of all the ones here in terms of its content. And an extra emphasis on this tip: remove the tables, as they get in the way!

Six quick facilitation tips

This video is much closer to my own practice than most of the other videos (McWaters’s aside). And though the 6 tips are quickly served, they are good! Have a check 🙂

Seven key skills of workshop facilitation

This presentation is a quick glimpse onto some of the basics of facilitation, particularly in terms of the attitude the facilitator should adopt. Nothing ground-breaking here but some good tips – with the caveat that ‘challenging’ is ok at design stage, not in the conversation itself (when they should be managing the process)…

The importance of energy in facilitation

Michael Wilkinson is one of the commercially busiest facilitators. I’m not won over his style, which makes facilitation sound quite mechanical, but in this TedX video he touches upon the important aspect of energy in facilitation – or rather energy in the facilitator, which helps energise the topic, the participants and the facilitator. Pity this video doesn’t talk directly about the energy of participants. Still, a good point is being made here. Inform-excite-empower-involve in the first 15 minutes!

Facilitation techniques – part 1 of 3:  

This guy clearly has quite some experience, and he introduces some interesting basics of facilitation. So overall the point is there. But his approach has a number of aspects that I don’t feel really excited about – to say the least – e.g. ‘no stories’ reinforces the point that participants should shut up (NOT a good idea); I’m also not convinced about the ‘justification rule’ – sometimes you can’t justify every of your point and it might condemn you to shut up if you feel you can’t justify. The presenter also confuses ‘paraphrasing‘ for ‘mirroring’.

Meeting facilitation

About this video, I would like to just point to the useful HALT acronym in this video (Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired). The facilitation approach suggested is quite pushy otherwise.

Facilitation in practice (demonstrated)

This has been difficult to find. But my KM4Dev friends came to rescue and:

Nancy White mentioned that the site ‘Liberating Structures’ has peppered its pages with videos. Some of them are available here: http://www.liberatingstructures.com/km-marquee-projects.

And these videos featuring friend and fellow facilitator Camilo Villa (in Spanish but giving an idea of the dynamics):

With International Organization for Migration: https://youtu.be/ADN9Vtge-IU
With WorldBank, MetroLab in Argentina: https://youtu.be/iq-y_8NAhkw
Sophie Alvarez also mentioned: Our wikipage for the Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) methodology, which has, sadly, been a bit abandoned lately, has some facilitation of parts of a PIPA workshop in videos, here: you can see problem tree and network drawing in action (in Spanish, with English subtitles), and some ways we facilitate it.
Carl Jackson mentioned: “here’s a nice video of using Open Space facilitation to support CLA strategy development for USAID Indonesia Country Office: https://youtu.be/WJaPFKTXQTg”.
At last, Chris Grose mentioned: “Our videos at IMA International highlight much of our face to face work.  They can be found here: http://www.imainternational.com/video_gallery” 

And finally – a facilitation model for group dynamics


This is a different video, featuring Sam Kaner talking about ‘Participatory Decision-Making in Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations’. The group dynamics framework he offers is explained from minute 51 or so. As usual there’s some really rich content there so I hope you find this useful too!

What facilitation videos do YOU refer to?