How can I take the pressure off of myself when I facilitate?

Punctuation not Protagonist

As a facilitator, it can be tempting to think of yourself as the protagonist.

You’ve got a job to do, right? Objectives to reach. Outcomes to manage. You’re like a little Atlas with the whole world resting on your shoulders. 🚨 But stop. Doesn’t that sound incredibly stressful? Wouldn’t it be better if you took the pressure off yourself?

One way critical way to restore your calm as a facilitator is to stop thinking of yourself as the center of the meeting. Instead of thinking about yourself as the subject of the sentence, think about yourself as ⁉️ the punctuation. As punctuation, you stop, you pause, and you emphasize. You pace and clarify. In other words, you have range. Instead of striving to be the heroic, lead actor facilitator, the facilitator-as-punctuation can step back and serve many different and essential roles in a conversation:

🛑 Full Stop: You can shut down a thread of conversation when it needs to come to a close. This can sound like, “Okay, we’re finished with this now. Let’s move on to the next thing.”

🟡 Comma: You can force a pause to slow down the conversation and give participants clarity in how to navigate a complex topic. This can sound like, “That was a lot. I’m going to break it into parts so we can tackle each bit separately.”

Question Mark: You can intervene when there’s intensity on a topic and certain people are dominating the conversation. A carefully timed big question can open up the space to give other people a way in. This may sound like, “How might we consider this issue from another angle?”

❗️Exclamation Mark: You can emphasize important points that will move the conversation forward. This may sound like, “I really liked what you said there. Can you share more?”

As a facilitator, the crux of your job is to support the group to do the work at hand. A stressed out facilitator is so caught up in their own anxiety that they may lose sight of the group and its needs. 😰 If you’re twitching with anxiety because you feel on the hook for lots of things you can’t control, it’s really difficult to hold space in ways that support good conversation.

On the other hand, if you’re relaxed and composed, you can handle anything that the conversation might throw at you. 💆 You can stop and pause. You can emphasize and inquire. You can relax, take the pressure off, and be the punctuation. ‼️

I’m guessing you’re here because you want to get better at leading groups, improve your meeting culture, and maybe even organise some great events.

Well, you’re in the right place!

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