“Let me know how it goes; I’ve been too chicken to try myself so far”, one of my mentors remarked after giving me feedback on my application to be certified as a Professional Facilitator (CPF). I was chicken, too, as I travelled to Geneva for the assessment day. “Please assume that the certification event will run from 8 AM until as late as 7 PM”, read the invitation. Intimidating indeed.

During the candidate briefing in the morning, the IAF stressed that they wanted us to enjoy the day, learn from each other and network. “Yeah, right”, I thought. I had other priorities in that moment. This was an exam, in the end, wasn’t it?

Later in the day, before the final round of interviews, one of my assessors walked into the room where the candidates hung out and remarked how happy we all looked. She was right: We were enjoying ourselves. Who else gets a chance to experience six workshops led by six different, highly skilled facilitators in a day? There was so much to learn from the variety of settings and approaches we saw.

Here are some of the things I might want to try as a result:

  • Get them to stand up. The first break out groups of the day Kristel invited us to stand around a flip chart each. As a result, we gained focus, and we created a large visual that we could share with the whole group. Remember: Flip charts are not for facilitators only.
  • Use a model in the room. We then played with polarities in a diverse group of stakeholders, and in an incredibly short period of time Paul got us to connect with our own position and see the value in the position of the others. Remember: Don’t just talk about differences, make them practical.
  • Prepare templates. I enjoyed the structure, clarity and professional delivery in Evgeny’s facilitation. The printed, humorous instructions showed us that he had confidence in his approach and delivered it regularly. Remember: Distill your system and stop reinventing the wheel.
  • Trust the process. Inviting the participants to co-create a visual always feels risky for me. Seeing it working so well in Marjeta’s workshop meant that I can give myself permission to try more of this, too. Remember: Stop talking, start drawing and writing together.
  • Develop your style. It’s easy to fit in, use standard material, boring post-its and typeset instructions. Nick’s hand-written handouts, his use of silly shapes and metallic markers really supported to his purpose of bringing fun and creativity into the group. Remember: Break the rules if you want to create something new.

All of us passed the assessment yesterday, and I felt so honoured when my assessors gave me their thoughtful, appreciative and observant feedback at the end of the day. I am deeply grateful for the intense, enjoyable and cooperative atmosphere during the assessment.

The CPF assessment might not be easy, but it’s been an amazing process for me, learning from master facilitators and, maybe, possibly, slowly becoming one.

Learning from master facilitators
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