• The Experts

Three Things In Every Great Facilitator’s Bag




A great facilitator must bring a group of people to a result that is created, understood, and accepted. Facilitation is a dynamic process that is often filled with as many personalities as issues. A great facilitator must be adaptable, flexible, and able to pivot from one approach to another quickly. The three key items in the facilitator’s tool bag that separates the great from the mere good are Engaging Exercises, Props, and Supplies.


Engaging Exercises are not prepared reports, PowerPoint presentations, or break-out session that talk about the past. Engaging Exercises are about the future, about creativity, and about bringing the team to action. Two of my key gizmos for Engaging Exercise are an Audience Response System (ARS) and an Excel-based Forced Ranking tool. Live demonstrations of analytical methods, such as a vibration meter or a Monte Carlo simulation, or educational exercises that ensure that all participants have a basic subject matter understanding are other important forms of Engaging Exercises.


Props, formally known as property, are objects used on stage or screen by actors during a performance or screen production. In practical terms, a theatrical prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes, and electrical equipment. Props.are an important component of every great facilitator’s bag because they serve as neutral objects to which debate and argument can be directed rather than at fellow participants or the facilitator. Plus there is some obvious entertainment value.

Supplies needed for facilitation should be coordinated in advance. There should be an expectation on the part of the facilitator that requested supplies will be ready and available by the host. However, great facilitators understand that this is not always the case and include some basic supplies in their tool bags. Standard supplies that should be part of every great facilitator’s tool bag include Magic Markers, Dry Board Markers, Highlighters, Sticky Dots, Sticky Notes, Note Cards, Pens, Pencils, Binder Clips, and Rubber Bands.

All great facilitators have a bag that contains Engaging Exercises, Props, and Supplies. What is in your bag?