One attractive aspect of facilitation is that you don’t have to do the work for your group. Though sometimes, what you do have to do is a lot harder! When you’re in front of the room presenting, you are also “presencing” yourself. To present from the present, you release your attention to the past or the future and invest your full attention in the present moment. In this state of mind, paradoxically, you’re not thinking or analyzing because you’re applying your full attention to what’s happening with and among your group. The following competencies describe the Orator archetype of the Integral Facilitator.
The Orator Competencies
- Present with self to connect with others
- Pay attention to audience, one person at a time.
- Comfortable with silence
- Use voice as an instrument
Be Present to Build Connection. Speaking in public, and listening to your own voice and words, is a process of self-discovery. When you slow down and speak from our passionate heart, you’re in touch with yourself, and what you say is often quite surprising. This is very different from the fast-paced, mind-chatter that we are used to hearing inside our heads. The heart is always more revealing. Practice speaking from your heart before an audience as the best way to connect with others and as an advanced personal growth experience.
Pay Attention to Audience, One Person at a Time. We present more powerfully by speaking to only one person at a time while paying attention to how we are being received. Try speaking to one person at a time while looking into their eyes and sense their reactions. This helps you remain present, connected, and authentic. Pay attention to your audience, one person at a time, and you can tell when they are with you and when they’re not.
Use Silence in Your Presentations as a Powerful Tool. When you stop at appropriate times, there is a quality to the silence between your words, a fullness that lets you know what you say is resonating with your audience. One of the hallmarks of an integral facilitator is the ability to be internally silent and to tolerate silence from the group. Continually drawing attention to yourself as a facilitator, even if you’re a great presenter, may cause the group to take a more passive than active role in their work. Practice making space for the group to respond to questions and take the lead, this is essential for their empowerment and self-leadership.
Use Your Voice as an Instrument. Sufficient volume, resonance, energy, and enunciation are critical. More often than not, participants won’t say anything when they’re having trouble hearing you. So the first simple thing you can do to improve the use of your voice as a leader is to simply check in with your participants periodically to make sure they’re hearing and understanding you. One of the best ways to improve the quality of your voice outside of hiring a voice coach is to record it then play it back to yourself for review. This may be a bit uncomfortable at first but do it anyway. We have a way of correcting our flaws and weaknesses nearly automatically when we listen to ourselves on tape. Also take note of what you’d like to change or do more of and keep practicing, recording, and listening. You’ll hear yourself improve in a remarkable way.
Give up Your Need to be a Success. A lot of what we do as group leaders, consciously or not, has to do with our desire to be “successful,” in whatever form that happens to take. Being fully present and responding from the present moment will ensure the deepest and most pervasive success your group is ready for.
Stop acting professional, be professional and alive! I doubt anyone would disagree with the fact that a great facilitator will have mastered a certain breadth of skills in the management of people and processes. What can get us tripped up though in our desire to “be professional” or skilled, is trying to act professionally? Modeling the act of being real is one of the greatest gifts a facilitator brings to their group. After all, when was the last time that someone being professional inspired you to do more, think more, be more, relate more?
The real pros I’ve witnessed have found their authenticity and it shows. They tend to be most comfortable being their quirky, sometimes crazy, selves. They can let go, have fun, and help others cut through their serious masks to see that every problem has at least one solution and that solutions can be had such that everyone’s needs are met. They see the world through their own eyes in a fresh new way, resisting the pull of groupthink or conventional wisdom.
Integral Facilitator’s Primer & Self-Assessment. Complete this assessment to determine your level of competency for each of these archetypes, then consider the questions that follow to help you craft a development plan to enhance your skills.
This model is taught in an applied format during our Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop, a five-day experiential event offered regularly at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and sometimes at other locations throughout the country based on interest and by invitation.