Tricks of the Trade: Tips for Facilitators - Filling your Facilitation Toolkit

By Gregg Barratt

Have you ever had participants act as though they don't want to be in your program? Do you ever feel that you're in a rut from teaching the same material over and over? Would you like to win your participants over in a minute or less?

Introducing a new feature from MAGIC® Service Newsletter

“Tricks of the Trade” is a new feature designed to provide facilitators with tips on how to win participants over. In each newsletter, we will feature a new topic. Send us the questions or topics you would like more information on and I will be glad to respond with some new and exciting tips.


Equipping your Toolkit

I don't know about you, but I am not too handy around the house. I can certainly take things apart, but I always seem to have a couple screws left over when I put it back together. I must not have been paying attention to this stuff when I was younger because all of my friends seem to be able to fix things with ease. I regret this now as I have to shovel out big money for all the little home repairs.

Despite this handicap, I have learned that even the simplest of tasks require a variety of tools to accomplish the job. Even removing screws requires your toolkit to have a multitude of various shaped and sized screwdrivers – phillips, flathead, metric, large tip, small tip, long handle, short handle, magnetic tip and so on. One saw simply does not cut it for the vast array of jobs you face.

The same goes for your job of putting together a classroom environment that promotes openness and learning. When dealing with different types of participants and group dynamics in each class, you need a toolkit of ideas, ice-breakers, experiential learning activities, and materials to be prepared for the variety of tasks you face.

Tip 1: Fill your toolbox. It will take a while for you to gather all of your tools, but here is a checklist to get you started. You can use a large gym bag or better yet, your MAGIC trainer's bag.

  1. 4 tennis balls

  2. 10 - 4 x 6 index cards with fun and interesting quotes

  3. MAGIC blocks

  4. Role play tapes from previous classes (with permission) – could be a real challenging call or an “out-take”

  5. An item from your favorite hobby. (I always have one of my black-belts with me to put on the table. This sparks interest and gets people on their toes.)

  6. Squirt gun (for your favorite participant)

  7. Two case studies to reinforce and illustrate the learning point you want to emphasize

  8. Variety of CD's to play

  9. MAGIC and TRAGIC bean bags to help illustrate these points

  10. Post it notes: when a participant asks a question that is off-topic, jot it down and post it on your parking lot flip chart

Keep in mind that it is necessary to match your tools with the right audience. After 18 years or so in the learning business I have a toolkit full of great tricks that help me in the classroom. In fact, I now have four different bags of MAGIC tricks and, depending on the class and audience, I take the appropriate one.

Be Creative: Use your Tools to Build a MAGIC Environment

Use your tools to aid in building a MAGIC environment of openness and learning.

For example, we've all had the overly chatty groups where it is nearly impossible to keep participants on topic. When I was recently faced with this type of group, I used a tennis ball as the “permission to contribute” signal. The rule was that no one can give their input until the ball is passed to them. Everyone gets involved because you never know who the ball will be tossed to next. It is fun and gets the point across.

Before and After
Before and After
Just one "tragic" contact can influence your customers' perception of your company (and their buying decisions). Listen to the difference MAGIC® can make.