Selecting the right facilitator: a three pronged approach

May 24, 2023
Selecting the right facilitator: a three pronged approach

Every in-house learning program is a critical project for you, and you leave no stone unturned to make it a success.You know the learning gaps, your program fits in perfectly, and you have promoted it well to get impressive participation. So far, so good... but wait, from here on, the facilitator takes charge - and you have no control over the delivery, the participants’ energy levels, or the ultimate feedback for your program.

So how do you choose the right facilitator? The one who would do justice to all the effort you have put into the program, and ensure it generates the engagement, learning and ratings it deserves?

First, let’s isolate the actual problem. Who exactly are you choosing? The most experienced? The highest-paid? The ones with the best credentials? Or simply the ones you feel most comfortable with? While all of the above may apply as criteria, what you are truly looking for is the RIGHT facilitator - someone who is right for this audience, right for your company, right for these methods/concepts/objectives, and yes, right for your budget.Here is what we have found from our work with over 320 clients - there are three basic criteria you need to hit:

  • Experience, and relevant experience
  • Context and content
  • Pedagogy and technology

Experience, and relevant experience

Experience vs relevant experience while choosing facilitator

An experienced facilitator is a non-negotiable. But while making your choice, how do you look at experience? Do you take it as the number of years, or number of programs they have done? Or do you dig deeper, and look for RELEVANT experience?For instance, someone with rich experience in your industry, might be the best fit for a market intelligence program, but might not work for a lateral thinking intervention.Do find out what experience they have in this particular learning method, for a similar audience, delivering on similar objectives. Bonus: have they worked with companies that have a culture similar to yours?Content and context

context vs content

Who your facilitator is, will obviously depend on what he or she needs to deliver. Content, therefore, should be your guiding star when you begin screening facilitators.One common issue, however, is that we mistake content for context. To understand this, let’s differentiate the two: Content is the core insight that the program needs to deliver, while context is the industry/market/functional background in which the program needs to be deliveredSome programs are context-specific. For example, a program on “Indirect taxation for discrete manufacturing industries in Union Territories and Special Category states in India” requires someone with extensive background in that particular industry.

Tip: Your participants themselves, their reporting managers or business leaders within the organisation can provide valuable insights for estimating the right degree of context.

But most programs are content-driven. Examples include selling skills, negotiations financial acumen (for non-finance managers), and cross-functional navigation. For these programs, contextual (industry/function) is not mandatory. In extreme cases, it may even be detrimental: programs on blue-ocean strategy, lateral thinking, etc., are better delivered by folks from outside your industry.

Tip: Look for a facilitator from your industry if the course content calls for it. Otherwise, it's an open question, and outsiders may even be better suited.

Pedagogy and Technology

pedagogy and technology

Every program requires a specific, specialized pedagogy. For example, a selling skills program might rely heavily on role-plays, while enhancing product knowledge will require demos and lectures. Your facilitator has to be an expert in that particular pedagogy.Today, technology is helping us create more experiential, and therefore more effective, pedagogies. This adds yet another facet to your facilitators’ requirements. For you, that adds one more box you have to tick: can this facilitator leverage the technology required to deliver your program.Have you found our approach useful? Let us know your take on it. Use the comments sections below, or write to me direct at

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