Facilitator’s quick reference guide

Learning the tools for facilitation is very beneficial, but putting those tools into play is the key to becoming a good facilitator.

Many Michigan State University Extension articles help individuals learn proper facilitation skills and give ideas of how to develop those skills through practice sessions. Some of these articles include “Don’t let difficult personalities derail your meetings,” “Demonstrating the impact of good versus poor facilitation,” “Using rotating flip charts as a facilitative tool,” “How to perfect the facilitation tool, ‘sticky dot voting’,” “How to perfect the sticky wall facilitation tool,” “Parking lots can provide more than a space to put your car” and many more by other MSU Extension staff. Learning about these tools is beneficial, but putting them into play is the key to becoming a good facilitator. However, when faced with a tough situation, it may be hard to remember the different tools that are available. The following is a great cheat sheet for a facilitator to keep at the ready in case they need a quick reminder.

Before group arrives

Set up room

  • Chairs and tables
  • Post “parking lot
  • Strategically place newsprint and markers
  • Suggestion wall or box

After group arrives


  • Think of timing and space before you choose one

Assign a timekeeper

  • Use time cards and bell

Assign a recorder

  • Share with the recorder your expectations of color and size of print.
  • Restate what you heard from participants and be sure it is captured correctly by the recorder.
  • Post each newsprint page for reference.

Determine what facilitation tools are appropriate and use as needed

  • Sticky wall
  • Sticky dot voting
  • T-chart
  • Vote with your feet or show of hands
  • Gradients of agreement
  • Rotating flip charts

Don’t forget to address the parking lot before the meeting is over. Do energizers as needed to regain focus (whenever the group is getting too emotional about a situation, getting off on other topics, becoming quiet or restless, etc.).

Focusing the audience and energizers                  

  • If you hear my voice clap once
  • Stand up, ok sit down
  • Do stretches or neck rolls
  • Take a straw poll of how they feel in a word
  • Take a timed break with a specific time to return
  • Pass out a snack or candy
  • Do a short icebreaker
  • Do a magic trick


  • Communication Balls
  • Communication Maze
  • Beach Ball Toss
  • Longest Line
  • Handcuffs
  • Name Game
  • Toilet Paper

For further information or details on these or other icebreakers or energizers, contact MSU Extension’s Leadership and Civic Engagement team at 4-HLeadership@anr.msu.edu

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