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15 Benefits of External Facilitation

Currently, we are helping many clients with their projects by delivering excellent outcomes through workshop facilitation.
“External facilitators are unnecessary. We have people who can do that.” Thankfully this view isn’t expressed often, but when it is, how do you respond?


Here are our top 15 reasons to use external facilitators. The list isn’t extensive nor complete. It’s merely our take.

1. The team leader typically runs internal facilitation. That’s not helpful as inevitably, the team leader knows the purpose of the workshop. The temptation for the team leader to lead the seminar to the desired outcome is high. Sometimes we find that internal facilitators have their subconscious agenda. They know the company, warts and all. Impartiality may be lost.
This is an obvious one. If you are facilitating, you are unable to participate fully.2. Timings play a crucial part in any workshop. Managing the plan, writing up key points as well as managing and guiding the discussion is problematic.3. An external facilitator can ensure that the discussion moves on rather than is locked in a spiral. They can introduce an element of balance and fairness, ensuring that all views are heard and listened to.4. External facilitators have many years of experience and skills that give a new perspective to the issue being workshopped and expertise that can cause the case to be looked at in new ways.5. They can have experience from other industries that cause delegates to challenge their knowledge and beliefs.6. The facilitator won’t have a suite of assumptions or biases that will colour the discussion or cause the debate to be shut down because it has always been done this way7. External facilitators can offer a view that is not shaped by internal politics or history.8. They can ask questions that team members may find difficult and are not swayed by the delegate’s title or position.9. Internal facilitators can be held back because of their position in the organisation v the status of a delegate, and they may not want to rock the boat.
10. Some delegates prefer external facilitation because they feel that they are not being led to a specific outcome because of the facilitator’s view (because they have a stake in it).
11. An external facilitator can be challenging (more so than an internal person), and some clients would be very disappointed if this weren’t a crucial role of the facilitator.
12. An external facilitator can ensure adherence to a process (if this is the case) and challenge and push the team along through their decision making.
13. An external facilitator can ensure that the team is fully engaged and that all delegates can speak.
14. An external facilitator can also ensure that there is an accurate record of actions and notes. They can ensure that commitments are made, and these are accurately reflected in any follow-up notes.
15. Any prep or pre-work will also be undertaken by the facilitator, ensuring that the right materials/templates are available, any pre-work for the delegates briefed, a practical plan and time-plan created. Equally, the little things will be organised by the facilitator, e.g. projector, materials, props and flip charts.

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