The Quest #138: 👀 How to See The Invisible Power of Facilitation

Hello friends,

Greetings from Barcelona.☀️

🙌Many thanks for reading The Quest, your weekly round-up of tips and insights to help you design and lead exceptional online sessions that your group members will love.❤️

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Let’s jump right in.

Here’s one of the greatest paradoxes of facilitation:

You don’t notice when it’s happening. But you do notice when it’s missing. 🔎

Let me explain…

Just last weekend my husband and I went to our first face-to-face workshop since before the pandemic.

I had sky-high expectations.

I imagined us diving into thought-provoking conversations, pushing our boundaries, and connecting with the workshop leader and others in the group.

Instead, it felt like a letdown.

The workshop kicked off late. The start dragged on. I had a vague understanding of the workshop aim. But no one told us what the plan was. We connected with a few people during the breaks. That was about it.

Something crucial was missing.

I realized I was scanning for the invisible hand of facilitation. But I was coming up empty. To be fair I learned some new practices. And we had some interesting discussions. But overall it felt like a missed opportunity.

Once you see exceptional facilitation you can’t unsee it.

When it’s there you hardly notice it. It’s an invisible power. But when it’s not you feel it. It can make you feel disoriented, annoyed, and even triggered. And you may not even know why.

Learning how to recognize these red flags can be just as eye-opening as spotting exceptional facilitation. It will help you grasp the nuances of skilled facilitation and level up your facilitation game.

How can you improve your ability to see the invisible power of facilitation? That’s our Quest for this week. 🔎

👉The Can’t Unsee Game for fine-tuning your attention to detail

👉5 Facilitation Principles That Are Impossible To Unsee

🔎Can’t Unsee Game

To practice what we mean by “seeing” facilitation, let’s do a warm-up. It’s called the “unsee game”.

The game tests your attention to detail using interface design. It feeds you a series of designs side-by-side. The aim of the game is to say which of the two designs looks “more correct”.


Looks like I am still a beginner in “seeing” the nuances of interface design lol!

👀7 Facilitation Principles That Are Impossible to Unsee

In the Unsee Game, you start to notice core UI principles. Using icons, choosing fonts, and aligning text to name a few. Once you see these elements, it becomes easier to see them again and again.

The same can be applied to leading engaging group experiences. Once you are able to “see” the elements in action, you can’t ignore them. And they’ll help you become the kind of facilitator that you can’t unsee.

Here are 7 facilitation principles that are impossible to unsee👇

1/ Psychological Safety

Exceptional facilitators create a space where everyone feels safe enough to speak up, contribute, and even make mistakes. It’s the key to unlocking engagement in your session.

✅What it looks like: The facilitator sets a warm, welcoming tone. People are jumping in with their thoughts and ideas.

⚠️Red flag: The room feels tense. People keep their thoughts to themselves, or worse, duck out early.

2/ Clarity of Purpose

The facilitator has a clear aim for the session that aligns everyone and propels the group forward.

✅What it looks like: The facilitator lays out the purpose from the get-go, and everyone’s like, “Yep, makes sense!”

⚠️Red flag: People look confused, disoriented, and have no idea why they are there.

3/ Ensuring inclusion

The facilitator finds ways to get everyone involved in the session and doesn’t just cater to the loudest voices in the room.

✅What it looks like: Participation mirrors the diversity in the group, and everyone is chiming in (even the introverts).

⚠️Red flag: A few people dominate and the discussion goes way off track.

4/ Fostering Connection

Skilled facilitators know that the more people feel like they know each other, the more they will engage and support each other.

✅Signs it’s there: People have opportunities to connect throughout the session with things like prompt questions and breakouts.

⚠️Red flag: The presenter does all of the talking, everyone else feels like strangers, and no one wants to open up.

5/ Sparking Engagement

Exceptional facilitators design for committed, enthusiastic participation.

✅Signs it’s there: People are clear on how they can take part and want to.

⚠️Signs it’s not: Crickets and tumbleweed. Awkward silence. And cameras off.

6/ Group empowerment

Expert facilitators tap the wisdom of the group, empowering them to take ownership and make decisions.

✅Signs it’s there: Group members share their experiences and learn from each other.

⚠️Signs it’s not: The presenter delivers generic content with little or no room for participation from group members.

7/ Rock-solid Preparation

In facilitation, preparation doesn’t guarantee success. But it does help to set the conditions up for your group to get better outcomes.

✅Signs it’s there: The session starts and ends on time, materials are ready, and links work. The facilitator is present and at ease. Everything flows and time flies by.

⚠️Signs it’s not: Some parts drag on forever. Other times things feel rushed and chaotic. Time runs over. It feels like a wasted opportunity.

Which principle is easiest for you to see? Which one is most difficult? For real I’d love to know. Just hit reply to this email.

✍️Quote of the Week

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Oliver Wendall Holmes, American Jurist

💌Thanks for reading The Quest

I always love hearing your feedback and suggestions. Just hit reply to share your thoughts and ideas.

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Creatively yours,

Whenever you are ready there are 2 more ways I can help you:

👉Custom coaching & team training. Book a free 15-minute zero-commitment call with me to see how I can support you and your team.

👉5-week Live Online Course. The Breakthrough Facilitation course gives you tools, personalized feedback, and a proven framework for designing and leading high-engagement live sessions. Join the interest list and be the first to get the next cohort dates and discounts.

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