A blog from Tesse Akpeki considering how facilitation can make a difference to the quality of leadership for charity boards.

Recently, one of the boards with which I am engaged ran an away day. We had attempted to host one a couple of years previously, but to no avail. Lots of the actions are still outstanding.

Six months on from our last away day, we have implemented about 50% of the agreed ‘next steps’. So what made the difference? We carefully planned the agenda for the away day this time and we hired a facilitator. We encouraged our chair to be a participant in the discussions rather than facilitate.

A facilitator is an individual who enables groups and organisations to work more effectively. He or she ensures meetings run well and that the group is able to consider tricky or thorny issues if need be. So what are the essential skills of an effective facilitator?

An effective facilitator:

• Keeps to the agenda, but leaves time for group participants to discuss issues
• Encourages participation and inclusion by giving participants an opportunity to speak and to be heard
• Creates a safe space for people to participate without fear of airing their views
• Ensures there is sufficient time for the discussion
• Does not allow any one individual or group to dominate the debate
• Keeps the discussion focused and on track
• Concludes the discussion with a decisive vote or steer towards the decision
• Ensures minority views are heard
• Ensures next steps are recorded for future reference
• Clarifies expectations, commitments and people’s roles in taking the next steps

To find out more, consider attending the one day Onboard Vital Facilitation course on 12 February 2015, which is an introduction to the essential criteria for facilitation. Additionally, the Advanced Facilitation course on 5 March 2015 is aimed at individuals who have previously undertaken facilitation tasks or activities and wish to hone their skills.

Tesse Akpeki
Onboard consultant


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Tesse Akpeki


+44(0)20 7551 7702

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Posted on 20/01/2015 in Legal Updates

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