One of the hardest parts of being a facilitator is time-keeping. On one hand, our job is to guide people toward interesting conversations, to help them relax and get to know who’s in the room so they feel comfortable thinking out loud, taking intellectual risks and tapping into their stream of consciousness. That’s really the primary role of a facilitator, to set the stage for participants to have a different kind of conversation, with different people, to exchange opinions, develop new ideas and figure out how to work together.
At the same time, there’s the workshop agenda, a road map with several milestones. There’s a bit of give-and-take about exactly when these milestones get hit, yet in order to stay within a reasonable schedule, sometimes we have to drive things forward a bit. That means quieting the buzz of the room and moving on to the next activity. It might mean parking a group discussion, at least temporarily. It might mean pressing someone who’s reporting back to the group or making a presentation about an idea they have to come to a close. Whatever the case, it means interrupting. Keep reading »