7 Ways Facilitators Can Build Rapport in Workshops

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As a facilitator, your primary goal early in the sessions to build a powerful rapport with the people in the room to get them on your side and ensure you have a successful outcome. Here’s a few tips on how you can do this.

1 Create a Relaxed Informal Environment

Be laid back, no matter how serious or important the session is. It immediately sets the right tone and eases the tension in the room. A few light hearted gags and anecdotes – usually at your own expense – goes down well. If you’re aloof or stressed, it will immediately show.

2 Naming

Focus on remembering and calling out people by their name. It really helps make a connection with everyone in the room and demonstrates that you’re fully attentive. It also shows that we’re all friends together and allows you assert control.

3 Actively Listening

It’s easy to listen in a half hearted manner, particularly when you have a lot on your mind. However, it’s crucial to demonstrate you’ve taken in what people say. The key tricks are: focus on eye-contact, play back what they say, refer back to what people said earlier in the day, avoid cutting people off.

4 Great questioning

The flip-side of great listening is great questioning. Use a range of questioning techniques that allow people to connect with you. Ask lots of questions, notably questions that are open and exploratory. This also demonstrates that you’re listening

5 Remember – its all about them not you

Don’t grandstand or try to appear ‘impressive’ or brag about your achievements. People hate a show off and resent being talked down to. Don’t make jokes at other people’s expense – no matter how funny you think you are. Instead, celebrate other people’s success and make sure the people in the room become the centre of attention – not you

5 Trade stories

Demonstrate you know how they feel by referring back to your own personal experiences to reinforce a point you want to make or to show empathy with someone else’s stories i.e. ‘the same thing happened to me…’

6 Be Responsive

If they ask a question – don’t ignore them. Try and respond. If you can’t, ask for help. This extends to broader questions. If they make a request for more coffee, the temperature of the room to be changed or a wireless code do your best to be accommodating

7 Give Feedback

People love to know how well they’re doing. Have they done a good job or not? Focus on the good stuff, not the bad stuff and if you’re going to criticize or judge them, do so with a positive and constructive mindset. This also demonstrates that you’re really listening and have internalised what’s been discussed

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