You will need at least one facilitator per breakout group. The role of facilitators is to:
- Keep the momentum and guide participants step by step by:
- formulating questions for a productive group discussion
- tactfully refocusing participants on the objectives
- maintaining a focused discussion
- reformulating participant engagement to ensure consistency and precision.
- Collect the information and transcribe it according to what was agreed in advance with the other facilitators and workshop organizers.
- Help the group share their own experiences by maintaining an encouraging, safe and open environment so all the participants can voice their insights.
Facilitators may be looking for tools and general suggestions for facilitating the workshop. Information can be found in the Seeds for Change website.
Our experience has shown that it is most effective when the facilitator is the only one to interpret the conversation during the workshop and translate that to create draft impact pathway maps (although it may be useful to have another person take full notes). This task allows facilitators to better manage and interpret the discussions in real time and to ensure that workshop participants have the opportunity to validate information that is recorded in draft impact pathway maps.
Note that if the workshop organizer is not a facilitator, she/he must be involved as well in the discussion between facilitators. Updating and coordination of the organizer with facilitators may have an impact on the results and on the smooth running and success of the workshop.
To ensure consistency in breakout groups and collecting information, and to save time for the subsequent data analysis, the workshop organizer(s) should meet with facilitator(s) to discuss workshop details and organization to agree on:
- The timing allowed for each exercise and group.
- Effective phrases/prompts/key questions to guide the group, for example “this activity can lead to what change…”?
- A common understanding of the following terms:
- 1) changes (short term), outcomes (medium term), and impacts (longer term).
- 2) actual, hoped for, and anticipated changes.
- 3) positive and negative changes. This is especially important if it is difficult to make this distinction depending on the actors and changes.
- To agree on how to interpret group conversations/data: e.g. how the information is displayed on the paper/document (where to place short, medium, and long term changes, what colors/shapes to use, etc.); how to get participants to make complete sentences such as “who/what does what to what/who?” to encourage focused and complete pathway mapping.
- The process for break out groups to validate and add to each other’s draft impact pathway maps. E.g., how will follow-up groups’ data be integrated into first group’s observations about activities and pathways (see next section).