Facilitation for Trainers


Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips ~ ISSN 1465-8046
Active Reviewing Tips is a free monthly publication from Reviewing Skills Training.

View the ARCHIVES ISSN 1465-8046

  Active Reviewing Tips 18.1 Facilitation for Trainers


~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: What? No shoes!

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: Facilitation for Trainers (part one)

~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing

~ 5 ~ TIPS: Designing Active Reviewing Sessions

~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Real Reviewing: Getting Beyond Cliches

~ 7 ~ Experiential-CPD: Take a break (and make it a habit)


~ 9 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL:  What? No shoes!

"You can't be the facilitator - you're not wearing any shoes!"

I was taking part in a facilitator-training workshop. And we were taking it in turns to be the facilitator in a role-play exercise. We were sat in a forest clearing. One of the group had volunteered to be the next facilitator. As he walked barefoot into the scenario to take over from the previous facilitator, a surprised colleague exclaimed:

"You can't be the facilitator - you're not wearing any shoes!"

Many social roles are so well defined (by custom and tradition) that it can disturb people if we do not conform to the role expectations of others. Inappropriate footwear can be distracting!

Shoe-wearing by facilitators is an an almost invisible custom that has probably not appeared in print until I wrote these words. I wonder in what other ways (visible or invisible) facilitators conform without thinking too much about why?

This is a strange question because it is usually the facilitator's role to do this for others: to bring people's attention to what they do, while also exploring why they do what they do.

"Why are you wearing a glove on your left hand?" my friend asked someone working on a production line. "I don't know why" came the reply. "I've worked here for years and I've never thought to ask."

So I now think of "glove-wearing" or "shoe-wearing" as things we do without enough critical thought about why we do them. 

"Why are you writing the words we say on the flipchart?"

"Why are you writing on the flipchart?"

"Why does discussion stop when the flipchart is full?"

"Why do we only get to write on little sticky notes?"

"Is it really necessary for all of us to say something on the topic before we move on?"

"Why do we always sit in a circle?"

"Why is there so much sitting and talking in active learning?"

"Why can't we be more active?"

The best facilitation (of experiential learning) does not come from uncritically following what others do. It is more likely to come from continual experimentation - looking for short cuts, better ways, and faster processes. Some creativity and risk-taking is needed to discover new and better ways of working. And by doing such things we are almost certainly modelling the kinds of behaviours that we expect learners to use in their pursuit of knowledge through experiential learning.

Only by trying things with and without gloves, with and without shoes, with and without flipcharts, with and without circles, with and without sticky notes, will we discover just how important or dispensible these habits and resources actually are.

Having had many opportunities for practising facilitation in the outdoors, I have learned to improvise, adapt and discover ways of facilitating learning that do not depend on the learning aids that seem so essential to facilitation practice when working indoors. But in both situations I do like circles, I do like plenty of space and I prefer to wear shoes.

The article in this issue begins to explore the differences between facilitation and training, and will be followed by practical examples of how these two approaches can be effectively combined.

I am not happy with the word "facilitrainer". Maybe you can offer a good alternative? Maybe it is your job title? Please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk with your suggestions.

Active Reviewing Tips is a free newsletter from Roger Greenaway that will help you to re-charge your reviewing and facilitation skills.

Typical contents:

  • a practical feature on reviewing tips
  • links to sites about active learning methods
  • tips, comments and ideas from readers
  • what's new in the Guide to Active Reviewing at http://reviewing.co.uk

Maximum frequency: monthly. Average frequency: quarterly.

"17 years of promoting better learning experiences."

I welcome requests for topics you would like to see included in Active Reviewing Tips, any questions you would like to see answered in a FAQ, and enquiries about trainer-training workshops (open or in-house).

Roger Greenaway

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

The Calendar of Reviewing Skills Training Workshops
provides the most up to date list of open/public workshops provided by Roger Greenaway.

Active Reviewing Online
Have you taken a look at my new online training course on Active Reviewing?
Please let me know what you think of the free preview or of the whole course: roger@reviewing.co.uk

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE:  Facilitation for Trainers

Facilitation for trainers,

educators, consultants & leaders

Tips for blending these different roles

by Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

There are significant differences between training and facilitating. They are not simply different sets of tactics and tools. There are different values and principles and paradigms underlying these two different approaches to working with people. So it can be difficult for a trainer to become a facilitator and it can be just as difficult for a facilitator to become a trainer.

Much of my work involves helping people find a good balance between the two, mostly because there are clear benefits in being able to extend your toolkit and borrow good ideas from other traditions and other ways of working.

There is also a wider cultural shift around the world that is favouring more facilitative approaches to ... everything. Parents are being encouraged to listen to children more. Managers and leaders are encouraged to listen to their staff more. Organisations listen more to their customers. Teachers listen more to their students. Trainers listen more to participants...

Maybe not everywhere. But it is a well-recognised trend that top-down organisations are being outperformed by organisations that are more agile, that learn more quickly, that adapt well and that are fast to try out new ideas.

Learning from experience is becoming ever more important in this increasingly agile world. And it is facilitation skills that are particularly useful for supporting these learning processes. In an agile culture, everyone is seen as a potentially valuable contributor with different experiences to share, and different perspectives to bring to a problem, and different skills to bring into collaborative ways of working and learning. 

So managers and leaders and trainers can all benefit from taking a more facilitative approach because that is what makes for a more agile workforce that is able to learn fast and stay ahead of the game.

With apologies to trainers and facilitators who do not fit these lazy stereotypes ...

How to spot a trainer How to spot a facilitator

A trainer ...


A facilitator is ...


  • is standing up
  • is sitting down
  • is talking with a stage voice
  • is speaking softly (or maybe not at all)
  • is speaking quickly
  • is speaking slowly
  • is holding a laser pointer torch
  • is holding a marker pen (or educational toy)
  • has participants seated in rows or round tables
  • has participants seated in a large circle (or even in concentric circles)
  • has high tech visual aids to help communicate ideas to the audience
  • has low tech visual aids to help participants communicate with each other
  • draws on the knowledge of experts
  • draws on participants' experiences
  • has many tricks for sustaining attention
  • has many tricks for sustaining involvement
  • has a plan
  • negotiates a plan
  • is flexible - but finishes on time
  • is flexible - the group decides what needs finishing and when
  • wears shiny shoes
  • wears soft shoes (and has even been seen wearing no shoes!)
  • loves bulletted lists
  • loves circles

How to spot a "facilitrainer"

A "facilitrainer"...


  • rarely sits or stands for very long
  • uses his/her voice in many different ways
  • varies pace to suit the occasion
  • ensures that participants have plenty of tools available to assist communication
  • ensures that group sizes keep changing to suit the task
  • has a bottomless toolkit to assist with all common group processes
  • tries to avoid unnecessary intervention, but feels free to support or challenge, as needed
  • knows when to be structured and when to be flexible
  • is happy to move around between the role of trainer and the role of facilitator (but hates being called a "facilitrainer") 

The article in this issue begins to explore the differences between facilitation and training, and will be followed by practical examples of how these two approaches can be effectively combined.

I am not happy with the word "facilitrainer". Maybe you can offer a good alternative? Maybe it is your job title? Please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk with your suggestions.

~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing

Active Reviewing




Active Reviewing Online

Taking part in this online course will enable you ...

  • To engage your students' full set of learning skills so that their learning is rapid, significant and memorable.
  • To inspire long lasting results by generating immersive learning experiences.
  • To become an expert in facilitating learning from experience.
  • To master the Active Reviewing Toolkit (A.R.T.), a selection of versatile reviewing techniques.
  • To use tools such as the Horseshoe, the Activity Map, Action Replay and others in order to engage and empower your students.
You can view the full course content and sample the training videos for free by visiting ActiveReviewing.com where you will also find reviews of the course by Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi), Andi Roberts, Cliff Knapp and Ginette Biolan.

~ 5 ~  TIPS: Designing Active Reviewing Sessions: 10 Tips

The links below will take you to the original article in which you will find practical applications of these tips.
  1. Get every individual reflecting within 2 minutes

  2. Get every individual communicating within 5 minutes

  3. Agree the main focus for the review within 10 minutes

  4. Get the main review process going within 15 minutes

  5. Agree a time structure for the whole session

  6. Ensure sufficient time for reporting back (or other kind of sharing)

  7. Build in time for evaluating the review session

  8. Highlight key learning at group and individual levels

  9. Connect learning with other parts of the programme and life/work.

  10. Close the session with a link to the next event

  11. Feel free to play the 'Joker' at any time

~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Getting Beyond Cliches

Real Reviewing: Getting Beyond Cliches

~ 7 ~  The Experiential-CPD Calendar

The Experiential-CPD Calendar has ceased publication but the archive of collected Thought for the Month' about experiential learning is still available.


See the previous issue of Active Reviewing Tips: Winning from Losing

Topics under consideration for future issues include:

  • The Active Reviewing Cycle: update
  • Making the case for active reviewing
  • Making reviewing a memorable experience
  • Reviewing as a takeaway skill for participants
  • Evaluating Active Reviewing: how well does it work?
  • Reviewing for different outcomes (using the same activities)
  • End of programme reviews
  • Co-facilitating reviews
  • The art of improvising
  • Remote Reviewing
  • Reviewing over a cup of tea
  • Readers' Questions about Reviewing (please feed me with questions for this 'FAQ')
  • Sample designs for learning and development
  • Integrated practice in experiential learning (when does an activity become a review? when does a review become an activity? examples of integrated practice - and do these
    challenge or demonstrate experiential learning theory?)

Please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk if you have any topics you would like to see included or put at the top of this list (which is not yet in any particular order).

~ 9 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

TITLE: Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning
ISSN: 1465-8046
EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
EMAIL: roger@reviewing.co.uk Feedback welcome
ARCHIVES: Index of back issues
HOME PAGE: Active Reviewing

"I like the way you look at everything and then return to what is simple, effective and memorable."

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