3 Classic Facilitation Mistakes

Keith Richards
19 Jun 2019

3 Classic Facilitation Errors.

The Daily Mirror described the Conservative leadership debate on the BBC last night (18/06/2019) as ‘a shambles’.

I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. But why did it come off the rails so badly?

As an experienced facilitator, three things struck me as significant mistakes. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they were ‘rookie errors’.

1. Prevent (or limit) interruptions.

The first time someone talked over another person, it should have been challenged immediately, but it wasn't. This gave everyone the green light to interrupt at any time. Once you let the first interruption go unchallenged – you are in trouble.

2. Layout the room approriately.

Emily Maitlis was standing behind a lectern (and off to the left) and was unable to use her physical presence to control the group. By simply moving towards, or into, the semi-circle of participants you can gain control of the discussion. You can even block people off if you need to!

3. Avoid adding to the content (be neutral).

The impression I was given was that it was all about the VIEWERS questions. However, on many occasions, Emily Maitlis added several questions herself instead of concentrating on making sure that the viewer was getting THEIR question answered …which quite often it wasn’t!

The Channel 4 debate on the previous evening was much much better. It had a better format and layout and Krishnan Guru-Murthy had much more control because of this. However, he also decided to add points to the questions from the audience, but this did not stop the programme being interesting to watch, whereas I found the BBC programme chaotic and not at all imformative.

My advice to any facilitator – look after the process, look after the participants, stay out of the content!



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