Co-facilitation is when more than one person is involved in leading and/or planning and designing a workshop. When you co-facilitate, you automatically have the opportunity to become a better facilitator as you practice working with someone else, identifying your own assumptions, and seeing different approaches up-close. Follow these steps to promote an effective and rewarding working relationship with your co-facilitator.
- Step 1: Know yourself as a facilitator
- Step 2: Meet with your co-facilitator
- Step 3: Do a practice run
- Step 4: Co-facilitate the workshop
- Step 5: Debrief after the workshop
Step 1: Know yourself as a facilitator
What are your strengths as a facilitator and what areas would you like to develop? When it comes to co-facilitation, it is beneficial to have thought through some of these questions beforehand so you can develop a plan for complementing one another’s skills and talents. Complete the What Does Facilitation Mean to Me? worksheet before your first meeting to help you articulate some of your key ideas about facilitation.
Step 2. Meet with your co-facilitator
During this meeting, make decisions about how you will work together and the logistics of the workshop. We recommend discussing the What Does Facilitation Mean to Me? worksheet and how you will use your combined experience and expertise, and ensuring that you and your co-facilitator have completed the Workshop Template or equivalent if your workshop is in a different format. Here are some guiding questions to get you started:
- How will you support each other during the workshop?
- If one of you wants to clarify a point or an instruction, how should you approach it? Use a hand signal and then jump in? Wait for a pause?
- Do you have different opinions on or approaches to the topics you are going to cover? If so, how are you going to express/navigate these differences?
- Define unobtrusive signals to communicate when it is time to move on or when more time is needed.
- For a virtual workshop: make use of private chat feature to communicate with your co-facilitator
- Let each other know if there is anything specific you would like feedback on after the workshop. For example, you may ask your co-facilitator to observe how you answered participant questions, or whether you have distracting habits while you are presenting.
- When will you debrief and share your impressions of the workshop (immediately, the following day, etc.)?
- How will you share the lead? 50-50?
- Share pain points (please don't abruptly interrupt me mid-sentence – raise your hand before).
- Determine whether the person with more or less experience will lead more or fewer sections.
- What materials do each of you need to design or bring to the workshop?
- For a virtual workshop: who will share slides and documents? Will you take turns keeping watch over the chat for potential questions from participants?
Step 3: Do a practice run
Practice runs allow you to practice, improve, and make changes to the workshop if needed. Doing a practice run with your co-facilitator will also allow you to get a feeling of what co-facilitating with one another will look like.
Step 4: Co-facilitate the workshop
There are many ways that you can support each other during the workshop. We have provided a few suggestions below:
- Consider turning to each other to ask for additional comments or anything that was missed.
- Help each other keep track of time and use signals you defined to keep things moving if necessary.
- If you disagree with your co-facilitator during the workshop, try to avoid criticizing during the workshop and instead follow up afterwards.
Step 5: Debrief after the workshop
- Be sure to schedule time for debriefing after the session.
- Use this opportunity to provide each other with feedback and share your reflections.
- Together, create a plan for next steps.