Facilitation Methods

The following is an overview of common facilitation methods:

Facilitation MethodMaterials Needed
Talking circle: Participants sit in a circle and each person takes turns sharing until everyone has had a chance to speak.

When to use it:
⦁ Beginning and ending a community meeting
⦁ Having participants share their vision or values for the language plan
Depending on the topic, the facilitator may need a pen and paper to take notes.

Talking circle object and medicine (if appropriate).
Individual reflection / sticky note facilitation: During a planning meeting, each person is given time to personally reflect on a question. Participants are then encouraged to write or draw their thoughts on a sticky note. Participants then have the option to share their thoughts with the group verbally and/or put their sticky notes on the wall.

The facilitator can then organize all of the participants’ sticky notes into similar themes or ideas and review them with the group. This is an easy way to capture everyone’s ideas and have participants share ideas with the group.

If possible, have a facilitator on hand to write down the ideas of those who prefer to share orally.

When to use it:
⦁ Brainstorming with a group of people
⦁ Vision statement, values and goal planning
Sticky notes
Surface to stick the sticky notes on (wall or flip chart)
Small group discussions: Break a large group gathering into small groups of two to four people to help inspire discussion and participation. After 15–20 minutes, the small groups are then brought back to the larger group to share their thoughts and reflections with everyone. Ask the small groups to record their discussion on a flip chart or piece of paper to ensure the information from each group is captured.

When to use it:
⦁ To generate a lot of ideas quickly
⦁ To re-energize the group
⦁ To give those who are quiet in a large group setting a chance to share their thoughts and ideas in a smaller group
Flip chart / paper
World café / flip chart rotations: This method involves setting up a series of tables with each table having its own topic, flip chart and markers. Participants sit at each table and are given a set amount of time (usually 15–30 min) to discuss that table’s topic and write their thoughts on the flip chart / paper on the table. When their time is up, participants move to a new table and start the process over again until everyone has had a chance to go to each table. In world café, there is often one person that remains at the table (referred to as the table host) to help guide the conversation. It’s a good idea to include table hosts if the topic is complex and needs explanation.

A similar process can also be used by putting multiple flip charts on the wall, with each flip chart having a question or topic at the top. Participants can then take turns going to each flip chart and recording their thoughts. In this method, allow participants to visit each flip chart on their own or have a timed approach similar to world café where participants spend a set amount of time at each flip chart.

When to use it:
⦁ To gather feedback on multiple topics in a timely and coordinated manner
⦁ Setting strategies for each goal (each table or flip chart would be a goal and participants go to each station to write down potential strategies)
⦁ Setting actions for each strategy (each table or flip chart would be a strategy and participants go to each station to write down potential actions)
Flip chart
Dot prioritizing: This method is great for obtaining community input on matters that require prioritization or ranking. The areas that require prioritization are posted on a wall or listed on a large piece of paper and each participant is given a set number of votes. Participants communicate their priorities by placing stickers (or check marks) on the areas they see as important.

When to use it:
⦁ When needing community members to prioritize areas of the plan or make a decision
⦁ Choosing between vision statements or values
⦁ Identifying the top / more important language planning goals to include in the plan
⦁ Identifying the best strategies to meet each goal
⦁ Identifying the best actions for each strategy
Flip chart / large paper

Additional Facilitation Resources

Many additional resources for facilitation methods or ideas are available on the internet. Useful sites include the following:

Liberating Structures

This website provides 35 facilitation methods for engaging activities to use in different planning and visioning scenarios. The site includes step-by-step instructions for each method and advice on when and why to use it.

Our Sacred Land: Indigenous Peoples’ Community Land Use Planning Handbook in BC

This online guidebook to land use planning is developed specifically for First Nations in B.C. Pages 50–59 provide a detailed overview of facilitation methods that can be used for many purposes, including language revitalization planning.

Active Presence

This website provides 16 useful facilitation tools for a variety of planning activities, such as surveys, prioritizing, brainstorming and visioning.