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Facilitator Qualities and Skills

These online facilitator qualities and skills started with the the QUALITIES FAQ created by the Group Facilitation Listserv GRP-FACL@CNSIBM.ALBANDY.EDU. I took the qualities posted to the list, then sorted them alphabetically. After letting them set, I started sorting and adding in context for online facilitation. I'm looking for sets of qualities and patterns. What do you think is important in the online context? What is less important? What is missing?

Online Facilitator Qualities and Skills

Knowledge of Self (personal qualities)

  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Accepting of others, hold others with unconditional regard
  • Authentic, congruent, honest ... e.g. walks his/her talk
  • Caring, compassionate
  • Charismatic (How? When is this appropriate?)
  • Conceptual and systemic thinking (able to put it all together)
  • Concern for quality (and able to describe it)
  • Empathetic (ability to see the situation as the other sees it)
  • Flexibility, versatility, (ability to switch gears at the last moment)
  • Inspirational
  • Objective/neutral (no vested interest in one solution over another)
  • Open to self-growth
  • Self knowledge and awareness (strengths, weaknesses, ego, impact on others)
  • Sense of when to stay quiet

Knowledge Base (knows/skilled in...)

  • Adult learning principles
  • Communication styles
  • Learning styles
  • Cultural competency
  • Group and interpersonal dynamics
  • Group facilitation
  • Knowledge of/assessment of audience
  • Subject/content matter expertise
  • Teaching/training

Facilitation Skills

  • Active, effective listener
  • Encourage open communication
  • Feedback skills
  • Attentive to when participants are/aren't "walking the talk"
  • Questioning (as opposed to telling) skills
    • asking questions that will lead to insight
    • asking provocative questions
    • using problems, questions, tools and other means to stir the mind and body to learn
    • not providing all answers to the participants
  • Clarify experiences for additional insights
  • Create or nurture constructive conflict or "creative abrasion"
  • Focus -- keeping the discussion on track
  • Listen from a non-judgmental place
  • Listen for understanding and context
  • Maximize gaining of knowledge and skill in the time available
  • Observation skills
    • notices patterns in group interaction and brings it up to the group for exploration.
    • notices what is NOT said as well as what is
    • organization skills
    • observes and listens for opportunities and actualities of learning
  • Pacing skills --change the level of the discussion at the appropriate time (from brainstorming to evaluation to decision to action planning, or from thinking to feeling)
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem solving
  • Ability to extract positive outcomes from difficult situations
  • Read not only individuals, but also interaction between individuals, and the subtleties of group
  • Resume/restart groups
  • Steer the group in a positive direction
  • Summarization skills (succinct, accurate, non-judgmental)
  • Use out-going participants to get the discussion rolling and make room for the quiet ones
  • Writing skills

Technology Skills

  • Email
  • Email list software (i.e. "listservs")
  • Threaded discussion tools
  • Linear discussion tools
  • IM (instant messaging) tools
  • Chat tools (IRC, java, html, voice)
  • HTML
  • Web page publishing
  • FTP
  • Groupware tools

Online Interaction Experience

  • Social online communities (i.e. Salon's Table Talk)
  • Chat, live events (synchronous)
  • Email lists
  • Virtual teams/virtual workgroups
  • Cross cultural groups
  • Distance education/training

Last edited 8/07/01 njw/awl

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