Essential Facilitation® 

Core Skills for Guiding Groups to their Desired Outcomes

Learn The Interaction Method™ and Transform Your Meeting Culture

The Interaction Method™ is a research-based approach for building consensus, reconciling differences, and taking collaborative action.

Facilitate High-Stakes Meetings
Learn facilitation techniques for high-stakes meetings. Learn how to guide groups whose members may have widely divergent backgrounds and views to successful outcomes.

Improve Performance Across Three Dimensions
When meeting leaders and facilitators apply The Interaction Method™, groups produce better results, improve work processes, and build stronger relationships.

Build A More Collaborative Culture
Our facilitation workshops are also powerful tools for effective culture building. Our results demonstrate when people utilize the Interaction Method in meetings, the organization adopts a common collaborative language and a set of effective meeting routines. The results: less wasted time, shared responsibility, and more productive meetings.

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Tired of Unproductive Meetings?

The most productive and effective meetings have good facilitators to thank. Productive facilitators discuss the agenda, cut through diversionary and time-wasting tactics, and resolve conflict — all in one meeting.

Reduce the instances of unproductive meetings with Interaction Associates’ facilitation training. Our Essential Facilitation® workshop gives participants a deep set of tools and applied learning experiences to guide the process, broker communication, build agreement, resolve conflict, and transfer capability.  Participants learn the Interaction Method, a facilitated approach for building understanding and agreement among people. 

Interaction Associates methods have been used by hundreds of organizations to make better decisions, generate faster (and better) decisions, and increase creativity and productivity.

"I can guide senior leaders through a prioritization process with skills I learned in Essential Facilitation™. I'm more confident in combining my experience and charisma with facilitative behaviors to lead complex meetings with many stakeholders."
- Ryan Hull, Mobile Technology Supervisor

Thousands of companies have trusted Interaction Associates to develop their effective meetings culture.

How it's Delivered

Live | In Classroom
IA Program Leaders deliver this in two or three days at your site. You can also certify internal trainers to teach Essential Facilitation® to your managers, project leaders and HR professionals.

Live Online | Virtual Instructor-Led
Highly interactive online training for project managers and leaders who regularly facilitate online meetings. Practice is specifically geared to the virtual meeting environment. Six to eight 120-minute sessions.

Custom Blend | Combination live classroom, VILT & Asynchronous
Tailor a blended learning journey for target populations of group facilitators and team leaders who regularly facilitate both in-person  & online meetings.

Continuing Education
Graduates of Essential Facilitation® are eligible to receive up to 24 PDUs for the Project Management Institute.

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Find Other Programs for Leaders and Teams

1 in 10 employees should have the facilitation skills and confidence to help people work better together in meetings.

To achieve results, effective organizations need skilled leaders who can employ the facilitation skills and confidence to help people work better together.

Meetings are a microcosm of team effectiveness and organization culture and the primary way to build understanding and agreements. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your meetings can have dramatic impacts on your organization, your people, and your culture.  

IA has taught over 500,000 people globally to lead and facilitate meetings. The top performing organizations in the world trust IA to develop critical facilitation skills within their leaders in order to achieve incredible results.

How can you unleash organizational transformation?



What Is Essential Facilitation™ Training?

Facilitation is a technique that guides groups toward desired objectives and helps build understanding and agreement along the way.Anyone running a division, department, or project team should have the skill of facilitation. Whether it's a small or large group, the goal is to frame discussions, gather different points of view, manage any conflict that may arise, and reach a desired objective. To be successful, facilitators must keep track of the decision, noting key points and agreements, and be focused on consensus building.Our Essential Facilitation training program helps you understand the characteristics needed to be a facilitator for large and small groups.

What's the Role of a Facilitator?

The role of a facilitator is similar, regardless of the industry. They need appropriate organization, leadership, and communication skills to lead discussions productively. Overall, an effective facilitator:

  • Ensures that the discussion progresses toward the intended objective
  • Recognizes when a meeting deviates from the topic, taking action to return to the intended agenda
  • Communicates their role in the discussion so that everyone understands how they will participate
  • Controls any group politics or conflicts with proficient interpersonal skills
  • Delegates duties like keeping time and taking notes for participants
  • Remains neutral during the group activities and doesn't hinder the outcome of the session
  • Recognizes that the group's time is valuable and uses it to produce value for everyone involved
  • Overall, the facilitator's role is to keep the group on task toward their intended objective.

    What Are Criteria for Choosing an Effective Facilitator?

    An effective facilitator must have the skills to manage a discussion and overcome any conflicts or challenges that come up along the way. They must be able to bring out the best of those involved and help realize full participation within the group that leads to an intended outcome. Likewise, they should be capable of remaining neutral in the discussion, with the goal of guiding the group instead of advocating for a specific result.

    How Do You Become an Effective Facilitator Through Interaction Associates?

    Interaction Associates is a leader in facilitation training. Our flagship program, Essential Facilitation™, provides participants with the skills to feel confident and comfortable leading any group to their intended objectives. This training is delivered in a variety of ways: virtually or in-person, in a public workshop setting, or brought into your organization.

    Contact us to learn more about Essential Facilitation

    What Are Different Facilitation Techniques?

    There are various facilitation techniques you might use to improve workflow and productivity during a meeting or discussion:

  • Brainstorming - This creates a more creative group atmosphere and brings unconventional and fresh ideas.
  • Setting Workshop/Meeting Agendas - An agenda is the roadmap for a meeting. It's important that these are well thought out and provided in advance of the meeting with clear details, so individuals understand what to expect in the meeting and how they'll participate. The agenda should be reviewed at the start of any meeting to align the group at the beginning.
  • Building Connections - After an introduction, use an ice-breaker exercise to help everyone get comfortable and have a chance to connect with one another.
  • Delegate Roles - Assign roles to your group members, such as asking people to check the time or record the details of the meeting. This gets others involved in the outcome of the meeting and helps the facilitator focus on their own task.
  • Set the Ground Rules - Ensure an organized and calm meeting by setting ground rules at the start. For example, when brainstorming, a facilitator may set a ground rule that the group will allow all ideas and hold back any judgment or questions until it's time to evaluate the information provided.
  • Take Breaks - Longer meetings cause attendees to become fatigued and lose focus. Take routine breaks about every 60-90 minutes and allow people to step away to prevent feeling overworked or exhausted.
  • Use a Shared Workspace - Whether the meeting is in-person or online, have a shared visual workspace to focus everyone's attention.
  • Manage and Engage Group Dynamics - If the meeting requires conversation, separate into smaller groups so that quiet participants are making decisions and thinking of solutions.
  • Keep the Mood Positive - A facilitator should have a positive attitude and make everyone feel comfortable opening up and sharing their ideas and input.
  • Monitor Group Politics - If a facilitator notices hierarchies and power imbalances within a group, they should bring that focus back to the topic using their facilitative skills.
  • Be Alert - A facilitator can make sure everything stays on track by being attentive.
  • Know When to Be Silent - While a facilitator's role is to move a meeting forward and lead discussions, there are times when staying silent and letting a discussion happen is the best route. Know when to do this and when to step in.
  • Group Review - At the end of a meeting, gather feedback from the group about how they felt about the experience. It takes about 5-10 minutes and helps everyone understand what went well and how it can be improved in the future.
  • Share Meeting Notes - Document the key items, agreements, and next steps of the meeting in a clear way, and make sure to share this with all participants after the meeting.
  • What Are the Advantages of Facilitator Training and Facilitation Techniques?

    Facilitator training with appropriate techniques encourages a more effective way of finding solutions. Here are some benefits of facilitation training:

  • Design and conduct any type of meeting, from one-on-one to high-stakes decision-making
  • Leverage diverse points of view and communication styles
  • Create effective, results-oriented meeting agendas
  • Navigate a group through difficult subjects and situations
  • Implement a variety of strategies and tools to guide groups to successful outcomes
  • Keep meetings from veering off track
  • Value everyone's contribution and share responsibility for success
  • Why Do You Need Strategic Planning?

    When you have a strategic plan in place, you can track progress and ensure that you're reaching your goals. Every team and department understands the larger strategies of the company, so everything they do impacts its success. This creates a top-down approach for tracking KPIs (key performance indicators).

    What Are Key Elements of Facilitation?

    The principles include:

  • Design agendas and group processes that lead to better participation and results
  • Engage everyone in discussions
  • Keep meetings focused and on track
  • Help people share their ideas, regardless of their first language or communication style
  • Use various strategies, tools, and techniques to build understanding and agreement
  • Guide a group through a collaborative problem-solving process
  • Leverage diverse experiences and points of view to generate creative solutions
  • Model facilitative behaviors that others begin to emulate
  • What Qualities Make an Effective Facilitator?

    Proper facilitation training can provide individuals with the qualities necessary to be an effective facilitator and enhance existing skills. Some of these qualities include:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Keen observation skills
  • Positive and focused
  • Promotes constructive feedback
  • Patience
  • What Are Facilitation Skills?

    Facilitation skills are what you use to offer resources and opportunities to people so that they can succeed or make progress. Examples include setting guidelines, being prepared, managing time effectively, active listening, and being flexible.

    Are Facilitators Called Other Names/Titles?

    A facilitator might also be called: Counselor, Mentor, Evaluator, Tutor, Educator, Practitioner, Trainer, Workshop leader

    What Shouldn't an Effective Facilitator Do?

    Most of the time, we're focused on what facilitators should do, but there are a few no-no situations, too. These include:

  • Going into a meeting with no agenda
  • Allowing the meeting to go off-topic for too long
  • Going over the agreed-upon time
  • When training others, have specific objectives in mind. Stay organized and prepared, stick to the time slot available so that people can go back to work, and focus on team interactions.

    Do You Really Need Facilitation Training?

    Do you spend time in meetings? If so, then you can benefit from facilitation training. These skills have been proven to improve meeting culture in organizations and have helped individuals feel more confident in their decision-making and communication skills inside and outside of meetings.

    What's the Primary Difference Between a Facilitator and a Leader?

    Leaders are visionaries. They see the big picture and can lead people to achieve their goals. On the other hand, facilitators bring people together to develop that vision and lead the group toward steps to achieve it.A facilitator can be a leader, but leaders aren't always good facilitators. That's why facilitation training is crucial for any leader.

    What Types of Training Formats Does Interaction Associates Offer?

    They require:

    • Intuitive Thinking - They can leverage their full brain to make decisions and assessments. In a sense, they assume things to piece together different outcomes before using logical reasoning to find the best one.
    • Empathy - Being empathetic means maintaining a welcoming and healthy atmosphere. They respect others while engaging with them and showing appreciation for their views.
    • Enthusiastic - It's crucial to be passionate about what they do and vibrant in their demeanor to maintain a great working atmosphere.

    What If Someone Doesn't Participate in the Discussion?

    A participant should never be "forced" into a discussion. During our training, we provide techniques to bring quiet members out of their shells. However, that might not always work. The facilitator must be respectful of how individuals want to participate. If it's causing an issue, the facilitator can have a private discussion with the participant outside of the discussion time to discuss any reservations they're having and how they can be addressed.

    What Makes a Poor Facilitator?

    Bad facilitators are unable to move conversations forward, don't keep the interest of the group at heart, and can be overly passive on the process.

    How Can You Facilitate a Quiet Group?

    Our training prepares individuals with the tools to facilitate quiet groups. However, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Use an ice-breaker
  • Start with questions that are easy to answer
  • Call on individuals for input
  • Don't feel obligated to immediately address any silence
  • Let participants write their answers down
  • Try breaking the group into smaller ones
  • Provide pre-work in advance of a meeting, so they're prepared to discuss
  • What Is Virtual Facilitation?

    Virtual meetings have become the norm of the modern workplace. While a virtual meeting comes with its own obstacles, the core tools a facilitator has still apply. In some cases, adding a virtual producer to a meeting can be beneficial for the facilitator. If any technical issues come up, a producer can take care of it behind the scenes without interfering with the productivity of the meeting.

    Should You Use Internal Facilitators?

    When deciding between an external or internal facilitator, determine what is best for the outcome of the meeting. If there is concern that an internal facilitator would not be able to stay neutral in a discussion, an external facilitator could be beneficial. If the mindset of someone who understands the team or organization is needed, an internal facilitator is recommended.

    What Is Process Improvement?

    Process improvement is the business practice of analyzing, identifying, and improving the existing strategies to meet the best practice standards, optimize performance, and improve the user experience.

    Different techniques are involved, and we can help you choose the best one for your needs. They include:

  • Kaizen
  • 5S
  • PDCA
  • Six Sigma
  • Total Quality Management
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • SIPOC Analysis
  • Cause and Effect Analysis
  • Process Mapping
  • Kanban