Facilitator Tips & Tricks
created by Zannah, MSL Instructional Designer
based on a guide by Katie & remixed by Bobby
The success of any event lies with the facilitator — it’s all in your hands! Here are some tips to help you run the best Open Science event possible, whether it’s a coding workshop, sprint, hacky hour, etc.
In the run-up to the event
- Know your audience! If possible, communicate with participants in advance to get a sense of their backgrounds, skill levels, and interests.
- Make sure you prepare thorougly in advance — organization is key!
- Define clear objectives-- concrete things you want to accomplish, that you could test at the end of the session-- these will help you select your materials and activities. Examples: Know how to make a pull request in GitHub, defend against challenges to Open Science.
- Don’t overload your session; give participants enough time to process materials/activities.
- If possible, send out an agenda so participants know what to expect.
- Aim to get a good gender balance in the room so everyone feels comfortable speaking. One male for every two females is a good guideline.
- Build in some free time (breaks) for participants to talk and connect with each other
On-site, before the event
- Schedule a bit of extra time up front for people to arrive, say hello, and get settled.
- Welcome newcomers, or have someone assigned to do so.
- Orient people to the space (washrooms, etc)
- Engage with the participants as they arrive — chat with them informally!
- Encourage participants to speak up and offer their ideas/insights and questions to the group.
During the event
- Set ground rules — state how the session will be run, timing for the session, what is expected of participants.
- Speak clearly, especially if some participants are not interacting in their native language.
- Make sure your body language is open and positive.
- Have participants introduce themselves, or introduce themselves to others nearby.
- Listen to the participants! Appreciate their input.
- Know your content — again, prepare!
- When delivering, be confident — you’re the expert!
- Make time for questions, and encourage people to stop you if they get lost or need clarification.
- Keep an eye on the time.
- Where there is more than one leader/facilitator, be sure each has an active role.
- Create small-group activities that allow learners to try out new skills, talk, and connect with each other.
- Get learners teaching: mini-skill shares, code reviews, pair programming are good tactics.
After the event
- Invite general feedback, and ask for specific feedback on what you hope to improve
- Provide extra resources and offer next steps for further engagement/learning (could be links to materials, info on email lists, details on upcoming events, projects etc)