The Art of Facilitation

Newsroom | 3 min read | July 8, 2024

- By Millie Black, Master Trainer and Artist

Hello there! My name is Millie Black, and I’m currently completing my third year as a trainer with Nexstar Network. While I love to facilitate training events and help people learn, I certainly didn’t come to Nexstar ready to hit the ground running – it’s taken time for me to become familiar with the content we teach. An often-used colloquialism about improving applies, here; it’s about getting the reps in. There really is no other way.

Here’s what I’ve learned about facilitation throughout my career:

  • Facilitation is a lot like cooking. Just as a masterful chef combines ingredients, so does an effective teacher combine content; measuring how much, deciding when to add the next piece, checking for understanding, and constantly adjusting.
  • Because adults learn through experience, stories stick with people. When a compelling story is dropped into a discussion, participants empathetically search their own biography to match and understand what’s being expressed in the story. Unlike a keynote speaker, who offers ideas to an audience, an effective facilitator pushes and pulls, checking how the content is being received and staying ahead of the direction the content is heading.
  • A fantastic training session is really more akin to a group conversation. A good facilitator’s goal should not be to stand in front of everyone and talk; it should be to allow the group dynamic to work its dependable magic. Each participant in a training experience understands concepts differently and at different times– that’s the beauty of a live training session!
  • Use your gifts. Those who know me well know that I am an illustrator. I studied commercial art in the late 80s. As my parallel careers advanced– my careers as a facilitator/coach and an artist– I found that graphic recording suited me well. Graphic recording combines the skills of cartooning and live scribing; it involves taking complex subjects and using graphics to make concepts easy to understand. I am a fan of having my own participants draw in the “Aha” pages of Nexstar training books, and anywhere else they please! I believe we are all visual learners in some way.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because using various modalities and tools during trainings also helps to relax people and link them together. A good facilitator uses a robust toolkit to make sure trainings are successful. Among the most helpful tools in my toolkit is a keen curiosity and an ability to ask strong questions. I’m also very aware of tone, pitch, pace, and using invitational language when I train. I find clear instructions and humor to be some of the greatest tools I can offer participants!

While I have many years of facilitation in my background, joining Nexstar Network has sharpened my own tools. The opportunity to connect each week with our members is special to me! I love that we can learn together and make sense of the best practices in our industry through dynamic conversations.

I hope to see you at a Nexstar event soon!

If you are a Nexstar member interested in connecting with Millie at an upcoming training, please visit our Events page. If you are not a Nexstar member, but curious to learn more about our mission to help the world’s best tradespeople become the world’s best businesspeople, contact our team today.

Millie Black became a trainer in 1997 and has coached and trained for national companies such as Weight Watchers, AT&T, Ewing Irrigation and Suddenlink. She is a “people person” who enjoys engaging participants and encouraging them to open their hearts and minds. Millie is excited to meet and work with Nexstar members as they train to reach their full potential in business and life.

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