Level 1

The Art and Science of Virtual Facilitation: Part One of the Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Series

group on a video conference

Thursdays, January 7 and 21, 2021
1:30pm – 3:00pm
Via Zoom
Cost: $30.00
Register online (through UNH)

Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Virtual Series is being offered in partnership with the New Hampshire Extension. Registration closes December 30 at 5:00 PM. Space is limited and registration is required.

Instructors: Kristen Grant, Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Cooperative Extension, and Sue Cagle and Penelope Whitman, NH Extension

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have found ourselves participating in and facilitating more virtual meetings. Successful facilitation is not as simple as sending out a meeting link. Virtual formats bring their own challenges and opportunities, and good facilitation takes skill and practice. This training will teach you new facilitation tools to use with new or ongoing groups.

During these sessions, you will learn key facilitation concepts and apply them to designing processes for working with groups virtually. We will demonstrate and practice specific virtual techniques for brainstorming, prioritizing, action planning, and decision making.

This will be an interactive training utilizing the zoom platform. A link will be sent to participants prior to the start date.

For more information, please contact Kristen Grant at kngrant@maine.edu.

If you need a reasonable accommodation, please contact Kristen Grant, at kngrant@maine.edu, or call either 207.646.1555 or 207.646.2930 to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered.


About the Classes

Facilitation skills are not routinely learned and practiced. If you have ever been in a role that you wished you had more skills or practice, then Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1 is for you.

Fun, creative, and thought-provoking, the SYFS, Level 1 Curriculum is a dynamic and comprehensive two-Lesson facilitation Training Series full of activities, “lecturettes” and potential aha! moments.

This training series is designed to help you…

  • build stronger dynamic groups
  • run more effective meetings
  • have increased confidence
  • practice techniques you can use
  • increase your awareness of what and who makes your group work

As a team member or chair, we are expected to produce results in collaboration with others. This is not always easy, and the skills of facilitation are not routinely learned or practiced to be effective in our work.

What is facilitation?

It is the design and management of structures and processes that help a group do its work and minimize the common problems people have working together. Facilitation is, therefore, a neutral process (with respect to the content and participants) that may focus on:

  • what needs to be accomplished
  • task design, flow, and sequence
  • communication patterns
  • appropriate levels of participation
  • group energy, momentum, and capability
  • the physical and psychological environment

By participating in Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1, you will:

  • Learn facilitation skills identified by you and other participants
  • Observe facilitation challenges, such as constant change, competing priorities, changing team members, limited time and carefully guarded resources;
  • Practice skills in an experiential setting and receive feedback in a safe environment;
  • Complete a self-assessment;
  • Receive a resource notebook; and
  • Commit to building the capacity of your community by donating three hours of facilitation time to a group of your choice.

Training Objectives

The objectives for the SYFS, Level 1 Training Series are for participants to

  • Learn core facilitation competencies
  • Observe facilitation challenges such as constant change, competing priorities, changing team members, limited time, and carefully guarded resources
  • Practice skills in an experiential setting and receive feedback in a safe environment
  • Commit time to build community capacity by volunteering facilitation skills to a community group or organization

During the training, participants list questions they would like to have answered by the end of the series. In the last session, they work in small groups and are able to develop answers to the group’s questions. Learn what participants have been asking — and are able to answer at the end of the series.

Foundations

The SYFS, Level 1 Training Series is based on foundational facilitator competencies developed by the International Association of Facilitators. The majority of the training focuses on three competency areas:

  1. Creating an environment of participation
  2. Guiding the group process and
  3. Encouraging creative thinking

The framework within which the SYFS, Level 1 Curriculum was developed from Best Facilitation Practices. The overall format of the Curriculum embraces a solid adult education model where learning unfolds progressively, sequentially, and experientially. The Curriculum allows for this to happen in the course of each Lesson and, more complexly, continuing through several weeks of learning before the Training Series is complete.

Meet Maine’s Instructor

The Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills (SYFS), Level 1 Training Series was initially developed in 2001 by Extension Professionals Jane Haskell and Louise Franck Cyr. Beginning in 2006, Haskell and Franck Cyr along with Gabe McPhail, developed the SYFS Training Series into the National Curriculum, Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1, which is now taught around the country.

Kristen Grant,
Kristen Grant, 
Extension Professional, Maine Sea Grant and 
University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Kristen Grant, Extension Professional with Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has been trained by Haskell in Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Level 1 and will instruct this series in Saco, Maine.

As an educator focusing on community-based program development, Kristen has worked with youth and adults for over 20 years. Kristen holds a Master of Science degree as well as a Certificate of Graduate Study in Community Planning and Development. Her experiences include working with a women’s cooperative in Guatemala to teach women and girls practical skills for achieving self-sufficiency. She has also worked extensively to involve students and volunteers in community-based environmental monitoring programs that provide data to guide land management decisions. And as an Extension Professional with Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Extension since 1999, she has worked to build the capacity of coastal communities in Southern Maine to plan and adapt for their future. In order for these community initiatives to be successful, engaging local citizens is critical – but rarely simple. Working effectively with groups of people who have a common goal is the first step in this process. And skilled facilitators are needed to move this process forward in our communities. With the intent of helping people to build these skills, Kristen is now instructing the Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Level 1 training series in Southern Maine.


If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kristen Grant, at kngrant@maine.edu or 207.646.1555 x115, to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered.


Participants have said:

  • “I invest more time in preparation and to better identify those people with personal agendas.”
  • “I have more confidence in my facilitation skills.”
  • “I liked being with others . . . who are fun and inspiring and having specific ideas to put into place and a time to practice.”
  • “I learned how to clarify assumptions, listen and then ask the right questions.”
  • “The training offered me tools I was oblivious to before and gave me creative ways to work with tools I already had.”

For more information, e-mail kngrant@maine.edu.


Any person with a disability who needs accommodations to participate in a UMaine Extension program should contact their county office or program contact to discuss their needs in advance.