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Co-Facilitation: How to do it right?

Published: Saturday, July 20, 2019
Updated: Saturday, July 20, 2019

Hi there fellow Learning and Development folks,  here are some thoughts on co-facilitation.  What has worked for you? Do you think co-facilitation is a good approach? I am looking forward to reading your thoughts. 

It is like dancing in pairs. Requires practice, intuition and excellent communication. You look beautiful and funny and engaging with free-flowing moves if you got it, or else ends up looking like a poorly orchestrated debacle. I have experienced both.

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If you work for a consulting firm, you may be asked to co-facilitate a workshop/training. You may know your co-facilitator or you may not. Either way, confirm the following.

Figure out the "Why" first. Is there a need for a co-facilitator in the first place? Is it a large group size? Is it that you bring value to the training in some way? Get a clear picture of your role before the training day.

Sometimes the co-facilitator assumes that you are his/her assistant. Are you okay with that? Prepare yourself mentally how you will handle that if that occurs on the training day, in the client's office? 

  • Clarify your responsibilities with each other early on to avoid confusion.
  • Mark your content on the schedule and plan your sections like a screenplay. This is especially important when you have not worked together. 
  • Does the co-facilitator need your help at some point in the workshop? or vice versa? If yes, get the specifics. 
  • What if the cofacilitator is hogging the spotlight? How will that impact you emotionally as a trainer? Prepare yourself.
2 Comments
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When I used to train paramedics, we had certain classes which were broken up into many sections, one of which had 18; these classes were usually taught with co-facilitators, usually future trainers needing to do supervised teaching time to get certified. The trick is, as you said, clearly define which topics were being covered by whom, and how much interaction the other instructors were to have during those sections.
Thank you for sharing your experience here. It is a fusion of experience and communication. I at times jump in to make the group aware of what is coming or if we are running out of time. I have been on both sides of this dance.
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My first discussion with a co-facilitator is around interjecting. I am comfortable with a co-facilitator jumping in and adding their two cents while I facilitate. I think the interplay can add to the overall presentation. I know that not everyone is as comfortable. I can control my need to jump in (With difficulty) but I need to know in advance.
Planning in advance is helpful. Here is a scenario. Would you jump into if you see the co-facilitator going "off the agenda"? curious to know your thoughts.
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Mr. Kubis, I agree- when I was doing more hands-on instructing I worked with many aspiring instructors who needed supervised teaching time; I had to control my natural instinct to jump in when I saw they were making a mistake or forgetting something- blurting it out in class would undermine their authority and embarrass them, so I reserved it for afterward (unless, of course, it was critical information they were mistaking, then I had to step in to make sure students given the correct info).
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