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Squirms: Learning from our Darkest Facilitation Moments

  • 05/19/2017
  • 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Government Accountability Office (GAO), 441 G St, NW, Washington, DC, 7th floor, Room 7N36, classroom 9


As facilitators, we enter every meeting with a certain level of uncertainty. We can do our research, create an agenda, and equip our toolbox, but we never quite know what is going to happen. Most of the time, we can work our magic and help our participants reach their goals without many problems. Sometimes though, we hit a wall. For whatever reason – participant behaviors, unclear direction, changed circumstances – we get off track, loose our cool, or get stuck. In this peer-learning event, we will explore participant’s darkest facilitation moments, assess lessons learned, brainstorm ideas and approaches that could help others navigate similar situations in the future, and figure out how to take care of ourselves in these difficult moments. Specifically, participants will:

1) Share a challenging or distressing facilitation moment, or share a dilemma they are confronting in a planned meeting.

2) Explore how they handled or are handling the situation – what worked, what you would do differently, what cues you may have missed, etc.

3) Get feedback from fellow facilitators about tools and techniques for how to handle these types of situations in the future.

4) Discuss how you coped with the situation and how, as facilitators, we might deal with stress in the moment.

Based on the discussions, MAFN will produce a short toolbox documenting key challenges and describing potential tools and techniques for addressing these challenges that emerge from the discussions.

More experienced facilitators will have the opportunity to share their experiences and gather insights and input from colleagues. Less experienced facilitators have an unprecedented opportunity to learn and grow from other’s challenges.

Workshop Leads

Although this session will be participant driven, Patrick Tallarico, Bill Yoder, and  Laura Holbrook will provide context and move the group through the workshop exercises.


If you pay for an individual MAFN workshop session and cancel before the registration deadline, MAFN will either credit your full registration fee towards a future workshop or process a refund, less a processing fee.

There will be no refunds or credits for cancellations received after the registration deadline.

Refunds, less a processing fee, are only available for workshop series subscribers until the September workshop of each year.

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