I am Jess, a participant of the SPOT on Facilitation workshop with Facilitators Network Singapore (FNS) on 8-10 December 2021. I’m sharing my experience and learning outcomes gathered during the workshop so that future participants like you who are considering it will be able to have a bird’s eye view of the workshop to make an informed choice. By way of background, I have graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a Double Honours Degree in Law and Economics and have been admitted to the Singapore Bar as an Advocate and Solicitor. I am now an in-company solicitor. I came to know about SPOT on Facilitation workshop through Mr Prabu Naidu, FNS founder.
There was a total of 14 participants, including myself, who participated in the workshop. The background of the participants who participated in the workshop was diversified, ranging from research professionals from the government agencies, training staff from education institutions, staff from the Singapore Navy as well as individuals like myself who come from the private sector. Our diverse background provided a rich learning environment and we had the opportunity to network with each other through the various group activities. It was extremely insightful to learn from the experiences of each participant.
SPOT on Facilitation Workshop Training Methodology
SPOT uses experiential learning that provided us the opportunities to practice and enhance facilitation skills through group work and individual exercises. We received extensive feedback from internationally certified FNS facilitators and coaches who hosted various workshop segments and had the valuable opportunity to receive extensive feedback from fellow participants. The case studies and examples allow for the real-world facilitation experience, leveraging the differing opinions and background of each participant.
As part of the training materials, we had received the book entitled “SPOT on Facilitation (2018 Edition): Engaging People, Empowering Teams, Exceeding Goals” by Prabu Naidu and Janice Lua as well as a toolkit comprising items such as flat tip markers and cards specially catered for facilitation purposes. The book, when read and learned alongside the training deck, equips soon-to-be facilitators like myself, the fundamental knowledge and skills that are pivotal to the facilitation process.
Key Learning Points For Me
Through the SPOT on Facilitation workshop, I learnt and gathered many useful technical skills on facilitation, including but not limited to the following:
- Opening and closing physical and online meetings effectively;
- Distinguishing consulting, training, coaching & group process facilitation;
- Applying FNS 4D Facilitation® Model in facilitated interventions;
- Using GOAB-P to keep meetings focused and on-time;
- Honing the art of facilitation using QLASS 3.0;
- Ensuring smart scribing and crafting concise & precise statements;
- Applying Participatory Engagement Techniques (PETs) to ensure optimal engagement of participants;
- Creating conducive physical and psychological space for meetings; and
- Managing difficult participants.
Key Learning Point #1: FNS 4D Facilitation® Model
I would like to particularly highlight the FNS 4D Facilitation® Model (refer to details below, with courtesy of FNS).
I did not expect that facilitation could be methodological as I had previously assumed that it would suffice to determine the requirements and deliver the session accordingly and had skipped steps D2 and D4 of the above process. In addition, I did not use divergence and convergence tools previously to engage the participants effectively. In several instances the meeting outcomes which I facilitated were not as ideal compared to where such tools could have been employed to ensure that the meeting objectives are achieved.
Through attending the SPOT on Facilitation workshop, I now fully comprehend the importance of the preparatory work, determination of meeting requirements (D1) and session design (D2), to create a successful meeting. With D1 and D2, requirements and expectations can be ironed out between meeting sponsors and the facilitators such that the meetings can be better designed to meet or exceed the expectations of the sponsors and create a meaningful experience for the participants. It is also interesting to note that in the event of a ‘mishap’ during the session where there was a change in circumstances rendering a need to change the delivery methodology, a technical break can be called between the facilitators and the sponsors to adjust the delivery approach real time.
Key Learning Point #2: Visioning
The SPOT on Facilitation workshop has introduced us to the visioning approach which allows for participants to put forward their ideas and ensure the involvement of participants to get aligned in terms of establishment of a group’s goal. While I have previously heard of the visioning approach as one that allows for a common goal to be established with a group, I had not come to realise its importance at creating buy-in amongst all group members. Through the practice sessions during the workshop, I experienced first-hand the power of the visioning process at creating energy amongst the members through the creation of a clear shared statement of the desired future. It is also interesting to note that this visioning approach is highly dynamic in nature as it is suitable for groups from as small as 6 members to as large as 100 members.
During the workshop, one of the visioning questions which my group came up with for a customer service improvement team was for the team to imagine how they would serve customers and the specific improvements that have been made exactly two years from today. Through encouraging the team members to incorporate their fellow members’ ideas into their own vision and subsequent facilitation to pull everyone’ ideas together, we established a shared vision by the group. That subsequently led to a successful discussion amongst the members that was highly productive and effectively ensured everyone’s involvement right from the start.
Conclusion & Going Forward
Overall, the SPOT on Facilitation workshop was indeed one of the best courses I had undergone and I am extremely thankful to have participated in this workshop. The workshop style and materials provided were great, actionable, and easy to understand, especially for new facilitators.
Beyond the technical knowledge imparted which would go a long way in taking the meetings that we conduct to the next level, I am extremely grateful for the friendship forged with fellow participants across the different sectors and industries. I am also grateful for the opportunity to learn from international Certified Master Facilitators like Prabu and Janice, who have many years of facilitation experience. It is also great to note that post-training coaching is provided to participants to support us in honing our skills after the course.
The course had significantly exceeded my expectations in many ways. It was effective in equipping me with the necessary tools and techniques for successful meeting facilitation and honing my skills in designing facilitated session though it is both a science and an art. I have learnt from the involvement and wisdom of all the participants at the workshop. The process elements that were being taught during the workshop are pointers which I would take with me to meetings which I facilitate. In trying times such as now during the COVID-19 outbreak where meetings are generally held virtually, the importance of utilising the process elements to ensure the smooth delivery of meetings is increasing as participants are now not able to interact with each other physically. Using what I have learnt, participants of the meetings which I conduct had feedback that the meeting outcomes were achieved more effectively and efficiently.
Moving forward, I am endeavouring to be a Certified Virtual Facilitator™ with the International Institute for Facilitation (INFAC) for me to receive international endorsement for facilitating virtual meetings effectively. All in all, I am truly grateful to Prabu and Janice for this wonderful learning opportunity!
This article is contributed by Jesslyn Zeng.
If you desire to learn to be a better facilitator, check out our SPOT on FacilitationTM and Virtual Facilitation WorkshopTM. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.