I have been facilitating teams since 1995. Over the years I have taken many workshops and trainings, received helpful feedback, and read many insightful books all to help me hone my facilitation skills. Facilitation is both an art and a science and a skill that can be developed through practice and reflection. These books are some of my favorites. If you want to improve your facilitation skills I highly recommend these.

Open To Outcome: A Practical Guide For Facilitating & Teaching Experiential Reflection by Micah Jacobson and Mari Ruddy

This small book is filled with great content. The authors explain a brilliant sequence of five questions that can be used in many facilitation contexts. For me, the most valuable was understanding the power of when to use a closed-question. That’s right, a dichotomous yes/no question does have a role in facilitation, and it works beautifully when used well.

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Thinkertoys Book

Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko

This book is particularly useful if you need activities and tools to help your team be more creative or think differently. The book is packed with activities, fun anecdotes, goofy drawings, brain teasers, and stories. Recommended if you want to move beyond the brainstorm and generate ideas with some classic and modern techniques.

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Tips & Tools Book

Tips & Tools: The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation by Jennifer Stanchfield

This is a great book if you need an overview on how to facilitate teams and activities, particularly using experiential education philosophies. The book includes some philosophy and theory, great insight into team dynamics and what team members need, and lots of activities and how to use them for certain situations. A few years ago I taught an undergraduate course in Experiential Facilitation at Fort Lewis College and this was one of the text books I used.

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Gamestorming Book

Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo

When groups need to solve a problem, simply talking about it does not necessarily lead to a solution. Instead, try gamestorming. This book presents 80 “games” to help teams communicate better, think through ideas, generate insights, and reflect on past strategies. What I love is that each activity is presented in a way that makes it easy to see how to adapt it to your situation. I’ve used these activities with many teams. The results were new insights, ah-ha moments, and greater progress towards solutions.

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Visual Meetings Book

Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes, and Idea Mapping can Transform Group Productivity by David Sibbet

Visuals are powerful. Slides are boring. It can be a conundrum at times. The solution – hand-written, hand-drawn, organic visuals that can be created either before the meeting or in the moment. This book describes dozens of activities that help take a group’s thinking and make it visual. It makes meetings more productive, more interesting, more creative, and more effective – the ideal balance for any facilitator. The good news is that these skills require no drawing ability. I have used Sibbet’s ideas and instruction to help me create more meaningful team meetings and workshops. Great resource!

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If you are serious about becoming a better facilitator, these books are great tools to have in your library. I find I use them regularly when I’m planning workshops or team building. Let me know what you think of them or if you have others to add to the list. Add your comments below.
Happy reading!

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