Introduction to Facilitation & ToP Focused Conversation

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Introducing the role of the facilitator and the foundation of the ToP approach, plus some key tips & tools – 2 days

“Meetings are a key part of what we do. As a diverse, transnational, multilingual membership network, successful meetings are key to our internal and external successes. Many of our staff mentioned Martin’s training as a highlight in their end of year reviews – several said it was the most useful training they had ever attended, and there was a clear consensus that we should work with him again.”

Eve Geddie, Deputy Director at Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)

Who this course is for

This course is for all those who want to be able to design and lead more productive meetings and events that engage people more effectively to build shared understanding and commitment, including team leaders and managers within organisations, those working with Boards, management teams, partnerships and external stakeholders, youth and community workers and independent facilitators.

The training draws on elements of ICA:UK ‘ToP’ courses including Meetings That Work and Group Facilitation Methods. It has no pre-requisite. It is recommended both to newcomers to facilitation, and to experienced facilitators who are new to our approach.

Questions this course answers

“What does a facilitator do, really How can I best craft questions to have more purposeful & productive conversations, and select and apply other methods & tools to support diverse groups to achieve their aims together? How can I respond to difficult behaviour, and what else do I need to take into account in order to make events engaging, inclusive and effective?”

This course provides a structured introduction to the ToP Focused Conversation method, which with the ToP Consensus Workshop method forms the foundations of the ToP Action Planning method, Participatory Strategic Planning and other applications. It provides an overview of other facilitation tools and techniques, and a framework by which to select and apply them to design engaging and productive events that achieve more than you thought possible.

What you will gain

By the end of the course, you will

  • have explored the role of the facilitator, and some key facilitation tools and skills
  • be able to identify when and how to use the ToP Focused Conversation method, and how it relates to and can add value to other methods & approaches
  • be able to design a facilitated process, selecting and applying tools and methods to make a meeting or workshop process more effective and respond effectively when difficulties arise
  • have gained confidence to apply your learning in practice, and to support each other in continuing to learn together from experience.

The Focused Conversation method provides a structured, four-level process for effective communication which ensures that everyone in a group has the opportunity to participate.

This method has been featured in publications including:

See also my own blog post Four steps to a universal principle of facilitation and learning.

Learning style

The course presents methods, tools & skills in a practical and participatory way. The ToP Focused Conversation method will be first demonstrated, then analyzed and discussed, and then practiced in supportive small groups with reflection & peer feedback. Participants will be supported to plan how they will apply & develop methods, tools & skills in their own upcoming work.

Tailored course workbooks will be provided for reference during and after the training.

What do participants say about this course?

93% of GFM participants rated the course 8/10 or higher. Comments from participants’ end-of-course evaluations included:

  • brilliant – a must-do if you want better, more effective meetings
  • provides two practical, easy-to-use methods to discover deep insights from diverse groups – useful tools for any group, organisation or community
  • benefits for experienced facilitator and novice alike
  • worth every penny – excellent content & great presentation

See also about mehow I work and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.