Facilitation in the Sweet Spot

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
— Jane Goodall


Dictionary definitions of facilitation include making something “easy or easier,”and leading a discussion or meeting by “asking questions, mediating between opposing viewpoints, or ensuring that all participants’ views are heard.” 

We’d like to add another definition to the list: The job of a facilitator is to make every meeting smarter because they are in the room. This workshop will show participants how to do that by facilitating in a way that boosts the conversational capacity of the meeting.

Conversational capacity, remember, is the ability to engage in constructive, learning-focused dialogue about difficult subjects, in challenging circumstances, and across tough boundaries. High conversational capacity and a team can put its most divisive issue on the table and address it well. A team with low capacity, by contrast, can see its performance derailed by a minor disagreement.

The role of a sweet spot facilitator, then, is to lift the ability of a group to engage in balanced, constructive, learning-focused dialogue when and where it counts.


Leading is about learning to be a facilitator.
— Ashif Shaikh

When you’re in the role of a formal facilitator, how can you set up, facilitate, and assess a meeting in a way that not only improves the current meeting, but also improves each meeting after it? When you’re not in a formal facilitator role, how can you still participate in a meeting or conversation in a way that elevates the dialogue?

Whether you’re doing it formally or informally, this workshop will show you how to bring more focus, balance, and discipline to any important conversation or meeting.


We’ll show you how to help people in a meeting stay in the sweet spot – balancing candor and courage with curiosity and humility – even in high-pressure circumstances that conspire against it. Better still, you’ll learn to facilitate in a way that strengthens your own conversational capacity and that of the people with whom you engage. Every time you facilitate you increase your conversational capacity, and your increased conversational capacity then makes you a better facilitator.


Participants will learn to

  • Set up a meeting for success by framing the purpose of a meeting and establishing, or revisiting, clear the ground rules.
  • Engage others in a way that increases the fit between the patterns of conversation in the meeting and the purpose of the meeting.
  • Influence in a fair and transparent way with no manipulation, shaming, or artifice.
  • Respond to flare-ups and conflict in ways that spark more learning than defensiveness and more progress than dysfunction.
  • Intervene in a meeting in three basic ways – and how to recognize when each is appropriate.
  • Influence constructively even when they’re not the formal facilitator.
  • Help good ideas get the traction they deserve.
  • Help everyone get his or her ideas and concerns into the conversation in a clear and useful way.
  • Assist people who are having trouble getting their thoughts and ideas into the conversation.
  • Keep the tension in the meeting in a productive zone.
  • Get a derailed meeting back on track.
  • Track and score the dialogue in a meeting.
  • Provide individual and collective feedback in a useful way.
  • Rate the quality of your meetings and track your progress over time.