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To Facilitate or Not to Facilitate? That is The Question!

To Facilitate or Not to Facilitate? That is The Question!

September 23, 2014

Our previous blog, How to Be a Better IT Professional: Continuing Education through IT Associations, discussed the importance of continuing education through joining professional associations. Taking that a step further, have you ever thought about leading the discussion at one of those meetings?

IT is a moving target, constantly changing as those in the tech market are forward thinkers and innovational leaders. As we mentioned in our last blog, attending professional meetings outside of your organization can provide insight on what issues the others within the tech market are facing, as well as current and future trends, just to name of few benefits. But, imagine how much more value you could get from your participation in those meetings if you were the one who chose the topic and steered the discussion.

A lot of people tend to avoid public speaking opportunities as much as possible which is totally understandable. Standing and talking while 20+ people stare at you for 30 minutes isn’t for the faint of heart and can take years of practice to perfect. However, it is integral to know that there is another option: facilitation! You can steer away from any fear of public speaking by understanding the difference between facilitating and presenting, and what benefits IT professionals can receive by doing so.  

Facilitating vs. Presenting… What is the Difference?

The word “facilitate” defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary states, “to make something easier; to help cause something; to help something run more smoothly and effectively”. By facilitating a meeting, one can lead the group discussion and ensure that there is an organized flow during the meeting. The facilitator helps create effective group dialogue and encourages participation throughout the meeting, while increasing group engagement and focus rather than simply talking.  

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, presenting is on the other spectrum. To present, defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “to formally talk about something to a group of people; to bring or introduce in the presence of someone”. When one presents, they are speaking during the majority of the meeting addressing a topic while attempting to keep their audience engaged. There are sometimes questions accepted at the end of those meetings, but it is often a one-way dialogue for a majority of the session.

So, Why Should You Facilitate a Meeting?

Facilitating allows you to get in front of you peers and gain new insights on questions or issues that you face in your industry, job, and/or career. As an IT professional, this type of forum not only allows you to tap into the expertise of others, but provides you with a platform to show off your skills and make connections. Some other benefits of facilitation include:

  • Securing smooth and successful meetings, led by an agenda
  • Organic discussion flows more freely without the standard Q&A session
  • Allows for increased participation and synergy among participants
  • Discussion on key topics, finding solutions and moving forward
  • Gaining the professional experience to use in and outside of your organization
  • Shorter, cost-effective and productive meetings
  • Channeling your inner leader and empowering yourself

These are just a few benefits of facilitating a meeting. Ultimately, we can all learn from one another and facilitation is an incredibly effective way of enabling that process. Being a facilitator can also inspire and motivate others as well to be future facilitators and share their knowledge or concerns. Perhaps there is a pressing topic that should be addressed that the IT community is facing; why not facilitate the next meeting to address the topic and discover the benefits of facilitating and the outcome it produces?

What are your suggestions for successful facilitation? Do you feel you can benefit by being a facilitator? 

Posted By: Anastasia Hoosman


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