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Fearless Facilitation: The Ultimate Field Guide to Engaging (and Involving!) Your Audience

Fearless Facilitation: The Ultimate Field Guide to Engaging (and Involving!) Your Audience

Cyndi Maxey, Kevin O'Connor

ISBN: 978-1-118-41750-8

Mar 2013, Pfeiffer

208 pages



If you are a facilitator with years of experience or just getting started, you will learn what it takes to create and deliver a high-powered presentation that is tailor-made to draw in your audience members and get results every time. Once you set the stage to include and connect with your audience, you will trigger memory and action like never before.

Fearless Facilitation is filled with easy-to-implement presentation techniques designed to appeal to all types of participants. You will learn how to break the "fourth wall" (the invisible wall that separates you from the audience) and engage your audience through dialogue. In addition, the authors show not only how to involve participants in the conversation but also what to do when they grow silent or argumentative.

Throughout the book a personalized "coach" helps you with answers to common questions, specific scenarios, and past nightmare experiences. The coach helps to clarify the text, calm any fear, and take the next right step. And, to further illustrate how to become a skilled fearless facilitator, the book is peppered with interviews with masters of the craft of facilitation and engagement.

Praise for Fearless Facilitation

"Maxey and O'Connor inspire readers to engage with audiences as collaborators. Experienced facilitators will be motivated to take new risks; beginners will feel prepared to actively engage an audience."

—Kathleen M. Galvin, Ph.D., Communication Studies Department, Northwestern University

"Fearless Facilitation is a blockbuster resource for engaging even the most challenging audience with confidence and purpose."

—Judy L. Schueler, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer, University of Pennsylvania Health System

"Through this book Maxey and O'Connor have actually facilitated a process for you to become a better facilitator. These two not only know what they're doing, they've put together one of the most practical books on the market. Read it and then go facilitate something!"

—Ron Culberson, MSW, CSP, speaker, humorist and author of Do It Well. Make It Fun

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

About the Authors xv

Introduction xvii

One Heard on the Street: The Audience Does Know! 1

The Audience Doesn’t Lie 1

It’s About Time! 6

It All Begins with Courage 7

Three Keys to Facilitate Fearlessly 8

And on a Final and Very Important Note . . . 16

Coach’s Comments 16

Two Organic Facilitation 19

Organic Facilitation Is Less Known 20

Organic Facilitation Is Healthier in the Long Run 21

Organic Facilitation Takes Time to Perfect (or, Actually, Make Appear Imperfect) 22

Intimacy Is Key 23

Coach’s Comments 29

Three The Fourth Wall 33

The Wall It’s OK to Break 33

Food, Fun, and Safety 34

Five Tools for Your Fearless Tool Bag 37

Three Rules for Breaking the Wall 38

Dance Naked! Th e Wisdom Is in the Room 39

How to Work (and Not Work) the Room 39

How Fred Friedman Broke the Fourth Wall 41

Coach’s Comments 42

Four Have Fun with One or with One Hundred 45

Take It Professionally, Not Personally 47

As You Begin, Notice Who Is “with” You Th rough Th eir Reactions, Eye Contact, or What Seems to Be Working, Even in a Small Way 48

Be Ready to Adapt 51

Know Th at You Can’t Win Th em All 53

Yes, Facilitation Works with Very Large Audiences! 54

Adapting to an Unexpectedly Small Audience 56

Coach’s Comments 57

Five Dialogue Not Monologue (Worse, Duologue) 61

Conversation Is Not Easy for Most 61

Can You Converse Without a Cocktail? 62

Conversation: Begin at the Beginning 64

The Break Is Never Really a Break 65

Dialogue During Your Meeting 66

Dialogue Post-Meeting 66

Coach’s Comments 67

Six The Set-Up: Making It Happen 71

The Learning Environment 72

You Can Always Facilitate, No Matter the Circumstances 75

Lessons from One Executive’s Transformation 77

Coach’s Comments 80

Seven Listen Live, Then Disappear! 85

What Oprah and Larry Know 86

What the Best Do Not Do 88

What the Journalist Uncovers 89

What the Orchestra Conductor Knows 90

What the Sales Professional Knows 93

Really Good Facilitators Use Th ese Questions 94

Really Good Facilitators Avoid Th ese Questions 97

What Listening Live Is Not 101

Timing Is Everything 102

Your Natural Resources 105

Coach’s Comments 105

Eight Go with It! 107

Take What Th ey Give You 108

Trust! 108

When You Know More and Th ey Came to Hear It 108

When You Need to (and Should) Keep Emotion at Bay 110

When You Can’t Th ink and Hit at the Same Time 111

Home Run! 112

Coach’s Comments 113

Nine It’s About the Audience, First and Always, in All Ways! 115

What a Ninety-One-Year-Old Knows 117

What a Professional Magician Knows 119

What an Eighth-Grade Teacher Knows 120

What Engineers Know 121

Connection Is Never Perfection 122

What the Professional Comedian Knows 123

Audiences Will React Diff erently to the Same Story 125

Avoid Death by Committee 126

Ten Yikes! A Whole Room Full of . . . 131

When Times Go Less Well Th an Planned 132

People and Groups Who Exhibit Predictable Challenges 133

People Who Are Disconnected 138

Only One Person to Facilitate 142

In Your Writing, Especially When You Need to Persuade 146

Gaining Traction 146

Keeping Momentum 147

When All Else Fails . . . People Who Won’t Change, No Matter What 148

Coach’s Comments 150

Eleven Conclusion: Now Is the Beginning of Your New Skill 153

Appendix A: Sure Th ings: Eight Discussion Topics Th at Never Fail 155

Appendix B: Four Keys to Making It Easier 157

Appendix C: Momentum Magic 161

Appendix D: Oops! When Meetings Don’t Go So Well 163

Appendix E: Techniques for Teleconference and Virtual Meeting Facilitation 167

Index 169