Roles of the Facilitator

by Tree Bressen

Note that it’s fine for some of these pieces, such as Timekeeper, to be officially delegated to others in the meeting, and participants can assist informally in many other roles. The one piece that should probably always be reserved to the Facilitator, in order to avoid confusion, is the responsibility for choosing whose turn it is to speak.

1. Summarizer & Integrater

  • State the sense of the group as best you can discern it
  • Reflect back what you are hearing verbally and/or visually
  • Weave together diverse input
  • List out sub-topics so each can be examined
  • State clearly any agreements for the record

2. Vibeswatcher

  • Awareness of emotional undercurrents, gleaned from tones, body language, intuition
  • Ask deeper questions
  • Call for breaks

3. Process Steward

  • Help group follow any process agreements or ground rules that are in place
  • Consider formats other than the default large-group discussion
  • Focus and safeguard the process so that others can mainly focus on the content

4. Peacemaker

  • If a conflict emerges, help each person feel heard, and seek common ground
  • Help people understand each other by translating information from a participant into terms that the other participants can also grasp

5. Keeper of the Stack

  • Keep track of whose turn it is to speak

6. Scribe

  • Write information up front large enough for everyone in the room to read it
  • Ensure someone is taking minutes for the record

7. Timekeeper

  • Keep an eye on the clock
  • Warn the group well ahead of any deadlines
  • Note again as the deadline draws near

8. Physical Preparation

  • Seating
  • Lighting
  • Airflow and heating/cooling
  • Supplies: markers, tape, easel, flip chart, chime