Facilitating with Purpose and Poise—Even When Things Get Hot


Anyone who leads meetings can be thrown off balance when difficult moments arise. The difficulty might be an unexpected tense moment among group members, a dynamic or group norm that makes listening or sharing airtime difficult, or challenges to the facilitator’s legitimacy. In either case, as a facilitator, you can learn to prevent an intense “deer in headlights” moment by preparing well and acting with calmness and intention. This workshop offers a framework for thinking on your feet and the opportunity to apply that framework as you practice "staying grounded." You will learn tools and techniques to improve your ability to navigate challenges as a leader of constructive conversation - in an organization, on campus, in a faith community, or in a community-wide dialogue about a divisive issue.

Learning Objectives:

  • Use core questions and other resources to help you navigate challenging moments in a meeting or dialogue.
  • Learn strategies to prepare for and prevent potential derailments before participants get in a room.
  • Develop deeper awareness of the personal attributes you bring to the facilitator role that may help or hinder you in "staying grounded.
  • Gain assurance in anticipating and navigating differences in personality, identity, or ideology that may arise.
  • Build skills through role-play for deciding when and how to address difficulties that arise.


As a result of this workshop, you will be equipped to:

  • Gain clarity and confidence about your role, particularly in conversations across differences.
  • Avoid unproductive patterns of the past and discover ways of promoting greater sharing and understanding between participants through in-depth re-meeting work and preparation.
  • See through the fog of confusion in difficult times in meeting facilitation.
  • Handle challenging situations that might arise during a meeting with self-assuredness and poise.

Who might participate:

  • Religious leaders discussing a divisive issue with the congregation.
  • Business leaders who must manage transitions and other challenging issues.
  • Peacebuilders looking to develop new ways of approaching potentially explosive issues with divided parties.
  • Resident Directors or Advisors in need of skills to better intervene or facilitate uncomfortable or unhealthy situations between students.

For more information, please contact us at training@whatisessential.org or 617-923-1216 ext.10.

Workshop policies.


There are no upcoming events for this workshop right now. Please check back later or contact us.

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Facilitation Practice, Role Play, Preparation and Purpose


Improving facilitation is not about obtaining the perfect facilitation tool, but rather building strong principle and self-awareness.

Elizabeth Ochs, Newspaper Coordinating Editor, RI Coalition for the Homeless