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Facilitator Qualities and Skills

These online facilitator qualities and skills started with the the QUALITIES FAQ created by the Group Facilitation Listserv GRP-FACL@CNSIBM.ALBANDY.EDU. I took the qualities posted to the list, then sorted them alphabetically. After letting them set, I started sorting and adding in context for online facilitation. I'm looking for sets of qualities and patterns. What do you think is important in the online context? What is less important? What is missing?

Knowledge of Self (Qualities)

  • accepting of others, able to hold a fellow human being with unconditional positive regard
  • authentic, congruent, honest ... eg walks his/her talk
  • caring
  • charismatic (how?)
  • compassionate
  • conceptual and systemic thinking (to put it all together)
  • concern for quality (and being able to describe it)
  • empathy ...the ability to see the situation as the other sees it
  • flexibility, versatility, (ability to switch gears at the last moment)
  • inspirational
  • objective/neutral(no vested interest in one solution over another)
  • open to self-growth
  • self knowledge and awareness (strengths, weaknesses, ego, impact on others)
  • sense of quiet participants
  • sense of when to stay quiet
  • tolerance for ambiguity

Knowledge Base/Training

  • adult learning
  • group and interpersonal dynamics
  • knowledge of audience
  • subject/content matter expertise,
  • understanding and experience in a wide variety of facilitation
  • understanding of and skill with process of learning of their audience
  • understanding of cultural components of learning and groups
  • understanding of individual learning and communication styles


  • active, effective listener
  • attentive so as to capture the comments that show that participants aren't "walking the talk"
  • questioning (as opposed to telling) skills
    • ask questions that will lead to insight
    • ask provocative questions
    • posing problems, questions, tools and other means to stir the mind and body to learn
    • not providing all answers to the participants
  • clarify experiences for additional insights
  • create constructive conflict or "creative abrasion"
  • encourage open communication
  • feedback skills
  • focus -- keeping the discussion on track
  • maintaining focus on the issues
  • listen from a non-judgmental place
  • listen for understanding and context
  • maximize gaining of knowledge and skill in the time available
  • notices patterns in group interaction and brings it up to the group for exploration.
  • notices what is NOT said as well as what is
  • organization skills
  • observation skills
    • observation and listening for opportunities and actualities of learning
    • observes how others in the group may have experienced the same exercise
    • observes nonverbal messages
  • pacing skills --change the level of the discussion at the appropriate time (from brainstorming to evaluation to decision to action planning or from thinking to feeling)
  • presentation skills
  • problem solving
  • ability to extract positive outcomes from difficult situations
  • read not only individuals, but interaction between individuals, and the subtleties of group
  • resume findings (restart groups)
  • steer the group in a positive direction
  • summarization skills (succinct, accurate, non-judgemental)
  • use out-going participants to get the discussion rolling make room for the quiet ones

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