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Criteria for Choosing Co-Facilitators

By Martha Lasley
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When people ask to co-facilitate with me, many factors run through my brain quickly as I consider whether to work with them. I want to work with people who bring in perspectives, experience and cultural identities that I don't have. Recently I said no to someone who wanted to know why. That prompted me to really think about the skills sets I'm looking for in a co-facilitator. 

Awareness and Tone

  • Demonstrates high needs consciousness, holds all needs as valuable
  • Recognizes own judgment, can self empathize and easily shift to generative thinking
  • Demonstrates openness to trying new ways of doing things
  • Believes in the resourcefulness, courage and inspiration of each individual
  • Reads the energy, voice and body language of each person in the room
  • Shares vulnerability and is open to learning and growth
  • Demonstrates comfort with group process and conflict
  • Values own learning as much as participants; dances on the growing edge
  • Solicits developmental feedback and continuously works on self improvement

Facilitation Skills

  • Offers empathic reflections
  • Elicits learning from the wisdom of the group
  • Dances with aliveness, stays present and changes course
  • Holds multiple agendas simultaneously
  • Demonstrates tracking skills and weaves in the threads
  • Creates experiential activities on the fly
  • Exudes passion for making learning fun, bold, playful
  • Elicits creativity using collaborative approach
  • Creates aesthetically appealing flip charts
  • Dances spaciously with co-facilitator - blending, taking the lead, covering, tracking, holding the container for learning
  • Adds to co-facilitator’s learning, leveraging each other’s personal growth

Cultural Humility

  • Demonstrates awareness of power, privilege, rank and culture 
  • Honors cultural differences 
  • Connects authentically  
  • Addresses oops and ouch with directness and compassion 
  • Works on self—biases, stereotypes and beliefs 
  • Can support people in changing their behavior without making them wrong 
  • Invites people into the conversations for exploration 


Experienced designer and facilitator of Organizational Development interventions

  • Visioning Process
  • Strategic Planning
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • World Café
  • Future Search
  • Open Space Technology
  • Sociocracy
  • Board Governance
  • Diversity Dialogue
  • Non-profit Leadership Development

Other Skills

  • Demonstrates wide range of skills: training design, coaching, consulting, mediation, negotiation
  • Articulates the observations and sensations that inform intuition
  • Creates space and encourages playfulness, humor, wackiness and love
  • Makes requests that are connected to needs awareness
  • Diagnoses stage of organizational development and creates appropriate interventions
  • Designs experiential training using NLP to match different learning styles
  • Practices spiral wizardry and uses language that resonates in different cultures
  • Understands and actively works on diversity issues and multiculturalism
  • Ties design to learning and organizational objectives
  • Holds the details and ensures logistics are covered
  • Creates handouts with appealing lay-out and design
  • Knows or can find subject matter experts to collaborate
  • Leads engaging teleclasses


  • Expresses transparently, vulnerably and authentically
  • Reflects back feelings, needs, and implied requests
  • Assists people in making doable requests
  • Communicates concepts and directions with clarity in 40 words or less
  • Interrupts as soon as people stop listening, demonstrating care and understanding for the speaker
  • Debriefs learning on four levels – observations, feelings, needs, action
  • Vocalizes appreciation without generalizing or labeling
  • Gives caring, honest, inspirational feedback
  • Authentically shares mourning, celebrations, and gratitude for contributions


  • Establishes connection, inclusion, tone, trust, intimacy, and engages participants immediately
  • Ensures that every voice is heard within the first 15 minutes
  • Meets needs of both fast and slow-paced participants
  • Shares consciousness of time and can hold agreements
  • Slows down to do deep work and holds silence during transformation
  • Sequences learning activities that build on each other
  • Creates closure that captures and transfers learning
  • Starts and ends on time, yet generates a sense of spaciousness

Gets Results

  • Facilitates meetings where everyone is heard and the group get results (balances process and task)
  • Captures salient points on flip chart
  • Builds consensus and gets agreements
  • Creates action plans with accountability structures
  • Designs metrics for evaluating and improving the quality of the program
  • Hears the emerging needs of the client and can design/sell the next phase of the program


  • Leverages networking skills, brings people together, recognizes opportunity
  • Can get in the door, connect and sell programs that delight clients
  • Hears the clients’ pain fully before offering strategies for easing the pain
  • Creates ease, helping clients share their hopes, dreams and budget
  • Articulates program options that meet client needs
  • Elevates client relationships to see new possibilities
  • Asks for and receives enough money to sustain future work and contribute to underserved communities
  • Writes proposals that resonate - in the client’s language
  • Develops sustainable support systems and builds community

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