Because you’re reading this, we can presume that you already know the value of professional facilitation. You also likely know that you have many choices about what expert you select as your facilitator.

The next step, of course, is selecting someone who can meet your unique needs.

Meetings are inherently human. Like any situation where a group of people is involved, the potential exists for things to go off the rails due to a lack of agreement, emotion, unclear expectations, or any number of other unforeseen possibilities. The right facilitator can help you avoid those unwanted possibilities, and lead your group toward more productive and focused meetings, a faster path to consensus, and an efficient use of everyone’s time.

But do you know how to find that person?

With so many choices available, it’s important to spend a little time zeroing in on a professional who will work with you to support your specific group and goals. This person should be able to stimulate creativity and conversation. They should listen well and respect the input of each participant to create an engaging experience that creates results.

Start by assembling a list of possible facilitators. Do your due diligence and check references. Once you have a couple candidates identified, it’s time to get personal. Ask each candidate to spend 15-30 minutes facilitating members of your group, and watch them in action. Once you’ve witnessed that they could fit well, you can have an informed conversation to confirm your choice.

The Six Questions to Ask a Professional Facilitator

Since 2002, FindaFacilitator has been matching professional facilitators with teams of all sizes, industries, locations, and types. Over that time, we have identified six specific questions that reliably help organizations enlist experts with confidence and success.

  1. What questions do you have for me?

Great facilitators start with the 5Ps – Purpose, Products, Participants, Probable Issues, and Process – in that order. (Process always comes last!) Be wary of facilitators who want to describe how they can help you (their process), before they understand your needs (your purpose, products, participants, and probable issues).

  1. What is your approach for getting the group interacting and focused?

Some facilitators have great days but don’t necessarily understand why. Consciously competent facilitators absolutely know the keys to success. They understand what works, what generally doesn’t, and why. Ask your facilitator to describe techniques to get groups interacting right away, keeping focus and avoiding side issues.

  1. How will you address dysfunctional behavior?

Great facilitators know the key to dysfunction is preventing it from happening in the first place. Your facilitator should ask you about the participants, their issues, and any problems typically seen in meetings. He or she should recommend strategies like establishing specific ground rules and holding conversations with particular participants.

  1. What type of orientation will you need if we move ahead?

Great facilitators know that the more they understand your business, the better able they will be to keep the group moving smoothly. They should ask you for relevant documents and information about your organization, your products, and your issues.

  1. What do your clients like about how you facilitate?

Most facilitators bring neutrality and control to a group. Great facilitators bring much more. Listen for descriptions like “great energy level,” “insightful questions,” “the process allowed us to get so much more done,” or “managing diverse personalities” to ascertain that you have the most qualified professional for your team.

  1. Based on what you have heard, what might the agenda be for the meeting?

Great facilitators have a set of proven processes they can tailor for each client. The processes are so well practiced that they can quickly pull from their resource pool to change course or customize an approach on the spot if a mid-session change is needed. Make sure the candidate can give you his or her “first thought” about how they might approach your needs, and dig deeper to make sure they have the confidence, experience, and resources to be as flexible as needed.

We specialize in providing organizations with dynamic, professional facilitators to lead group strategy and problem-solving sessions. Anytime your organization is seeking a facilitator, our robust database is the best place to start. Use it to locate candidates with the process and industry experience, regional location, and range of rates you need.