A Facilitators Handbook

Facilitation can enable us to have better gatherings and make the most of the collective wisdom of a group.

Alan Inman-Ward

08 Oct 2021

The cover page of the facilitator's handbook.

For Active Gloucestershire, facilitation is particularly important in catalysing the social movement, we can move. Well-facilitated gatherings can enable schools, employers, religious organisations, neighbourhood groups, social clubs and charities to come together as more than the sum of their parts to increase levels of physical activity across Gloucestershire.


This handbook builds on a pair of workshops with the Active Gloucestershire team led by the Curiosity Society in early 2021. Thank you to everyone who took part.


We hope you enjoy this handbook, and it helps with building your facilitation skills.






The ability to facilitate starts with understanding the role of the facilitator and the facilitator’s mindset. The next ingredient is having a clear purpose for a meeting or gathering. This purpose will guide the facilitator’s choices of venue, who to invite, and how they facilitate. The amount of structure, how decisions are made and how a meeting is recorded are all important decisions that should be made with intention.


The structure of the meeting is likely to follow a pattern of opening, exploring and closing. understanding this ‘diamond of participation’ and planning for each stage helps a facilitator

to ensure a group shares a lot of diverse ideas, can have room for disagreement and improving the ideas, and can make choices between them, with clear next steps. With a clear

purpose and structure, it becomes easier to select and adapt activities.


All of these principles and techniques apply to virtual facilitation as well as in-person. In fact, making intentional decisions ahead of a meeting becomes more important when it is more difficult to adjust on the go. There are additional considerations to take into account such as extra planning, using technology and working with a tech host or cofacilitator.


Finally, facilitation is a skill that can be practised and learnt over time. This is more than having a few more activities under your belt. You might practise asking better questions, giving clear instructions or even trying your hand at improvisation. Finding opportunities to try things out and get feedback

helps a lot.

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Alan Inman-Ward
08 Oct 2021

The Head of Insights and Intelligence