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I love, love, LOVE leading groups.   It’s a big part of what attracted me to coaching in the first place.

So when the amazing women of the Desire Mastermind (pictured above) asked me to spill my secrets of facilitating group programs and masterminds at our retreat last weekend… I was thrilled.

Great facilitation is crucial to your clients’ success.  It’s where the REAL value of your program is delivered.  (NOT the marketing or “how to” content, which is where most group leaders spend 99.9% of their time.)

If you’ve ever had a group program that tanked – peeps checked out (disappeared), didn’t get results, or were difficult to deal with – you can bet that your facilitation was a factor.

A lack of facilitation finesse can be downright damaging.  And yet… have you noticed how FEW marketing gurus, coaches and mentors out there really pay attention to it?

You’ve likely been in those programs where the leader’s idea of leading is putting everyone in a FB group, blasting out content and calling it a day.   And for some programs, that’s entirely appropriate.

Personally, I don’t expect to create life-changing results in a $297 online course.

But for high-end group programs and masterminds… that’s exactly what I expect. And so do your clients!

That’s why if you’re a coach, practitioner, healer or change agent and you lead groups… and you’re charging thousands of dollars… basic facilitation savvy is a requirement, not an option.

So here are my 5 facilitation secrets for creating kick-ass results in group programs.  You can use these for high-end masterminds, online group programs, LIVE retreats, group intensives, teacher trainings, and more.  They work wonders with 1-on-1 clients, too.

Facilitation Secret #1: Attract the RIGHT participants.

Clients and colleagues comment all the time on the awesomeness of our groups like Goddess Business School® and the Desire Mastermind.  Our programs are successful in no small part because of the HUGE emphasis we place on accepting ONLY the right people.

The success or failure of your program begins with who’s IN it.  You MUST be fierce about who your group is FOR, and who gets in.

So when designing your group, your first question should be: WHO is an ideal participant, and WHAT is their biggest challenge?

Then, it’s time to go deeper.  WHO is this person… on the inside? What qualities or characteristics do they hold?  How do they show up in the world?  WHO is the person you’re most likely to lead to success?

We’ve been teaching a power tool on this for years –the Ideal Client Checklist, which you can download here.   It’s a list of energetic, spiritual and behavioral criteria of those best suited to working with you.

Make your list of criteria.  Then, just as with hiring, do NOT deviate from your criteria.

I highly encourage making an Ideal Client Checklist for your lower-end programs (that don’t have enrollment conversations) too – your intention will magnetize more of them and less of everyone else.

Facilitation Secret #2: Know the path (or journey) your client will take.

Every program has a path.  A “point A” and a “point B.”  Where they are now, and where they want to be.

Yes, it starts with content and the “how to” steps.  But your clients’ REAL journey is their inner journey.  And YOU, as facilitator, are the leader and guide on that journey.

For the Desire Mastermind, the outer journey is going from 6-figures to multi-6-figures.  The inner journey is going from being “in the silo” (doing it alone) to co-creating, collaborating, leading.  From being the source (where everything depends on you) to being the contribution (where co-creation happens through you).

For Goddess Business School®, the outer journey is from zero or low-5 to 6-figures.  The inner journey is that of being at effect (life is happening TO you) to being at cause (you create your life).

For The Art of Feminine Magic®, the inner journey is the same: from effect to cause.  The outer journey is the HOW-TO of manifesting exactly what you Desire, at will: a proven system of manifesting that works every time when you work it properly.

Once you’re clear on who your participants are and what they WANT, map out the path: the outer transformation and the inner transformation.

Then all of your content, exercises and facilitation choices are designed with ONE end in mind: to lead your participants on their journey.

Facilitation Secret #3: Create a safe and strong container.

Every retreat, workshop, ritual or group call has a container.   So do private sessions.  The overall program itself (group or private) also has a container.

The container is not a physical container – though if you meet in person, it will have physical aspects.  Rather, it is an energy field that contains the group as a unified whole.

Your container keeps your peeps connected to each other, and to you.  It sets the tone and the parameters.  It defines and determines “how things are going to roll around here.”

A well-constructed container is magical.  It creates a sense of trust and allows participants to BE in their process – to be vulnerable, to trust, to share.  A strong and safe container creates the environment for the highest level of transformation and results.

As you might imagine, this is a HUGE topic.  To get started, here are my top 4 elements of a safe and strong container:

  • Your FRAMES. The perspectives, assumptions, beliefs and expectations you will take in your program.  A classic example is agreements, such as the agreement of confidentiality or the agreement to “play full out.”   I also love to give my peeps mindsets and guidelines that will help them succeed (“be willing to make decisions,” for example) and then go back to them repeatedly throughout the program.
  • Your PRACTICES. Client results come from their habitual actions more than big, bold moves.  Someone who reaches out to 3 new people every day will sign on more clients than someone who does not.  The best way to get clients to take action?  Include a   A single well-chosen practice can lead to massive results for your clients.
  • Your STRUCTURES. These include structures for when you are together as a group (“here’s how the call is going to flow”) and when you are not (action steps between calls).
  • Your BOUNDARIES. My favorite!  Payment boundaries (how payment is collected and when), communications boundaries (who is the point of contact and how much are they available), appropriate behavior boundaries, energetic boundaries… the list goes on.  A big one is responsibility boundaries – what is your role, what is the participant’s role?  Remember, you are facilitating their process, not doing it for them.

A properly constructed container will dissolve 95% of challenges and conflict before they arise.  After choosing the right clients, this is THE thing that makes or breaks the success of your program!

Facilitation Secret #4: Work with the group instead of focusing on individuals.

A big part of what makes group work powerful is – of course! – the group dynamic.

Every single person in the group impacts the energy of the group and thereby everyone else in it –  especially with small groups.  This gives you a wide range of tools and possibilities that simply aren’t present in a 1-on-1 setting.

Great facilitators use this wide range, prioritizing the needs of the whole over the needs of the one.  This means being attuned to the energy of the group, tracking the story arc of each 1-on-1 interaction, and the relevance of each coaching piece to the entire group.

Techniques are endless, but a great way to get started here is simply to ask yourself, “How is this relevant to the group?” during every participant interaction.  Do this often enough and you will naturally find yourself highlighting the relevant bits and steering your conversations in the direction of what the group needs.

Facilitation Secret #5: Welcome the “resisters.”

It’s every facilitator’s nightmare: being challenged in front of the group by an outraged participant…

Or clients who stop paying…
Or clients that check out…
Or half your group leaves…
Or that ONE person who dominates the group…
… and on and on.

Whatever YOUR facilitation “nightmare” may be … it’s just some form of resistance.

The solution?  Welcome the resistance, instead of… well, resisting it.  (Ha!)

In transformational programs, resistance is inevitable.  Why?  Because just like every human being on the planet, your peeps are neurologically wired to resist change.

So transformation and resistance go hand in hand – it’s just a part of the deal!  When handled correctly, it’s a blessing and gift for the entire room.  Because you’d better believe that whatever is coming up for one person is coming up for a dozen.

A ninja secret of changework is appreciation – no “stuck state” starts shifting until we love the hell out of it.

So your best first step for handling resistance – especially the kind where your peeps are challenging you – is to NORMALIZE it.

If it’s normal, it’s no big whoop.
If it’s normal, you can handle it.
If it’s normal, nobody is “broken” or “wrong.”
If it’s normal, it’s not a disruption, but an opportunity for growth.

“Of course you’re feeling angry – what we’re doing would trigger the sh*t out of most people.  Anyone else feeling a little bent out of shape?  Raise your hand…”

“THANK you for saying that!  Who else feels this way?”

“I really appreciate how you’re being the voice in the room right now.”

Conflict can’t exist when there’s nothing to push against.  Above all, your peeps want to be seen, heard, accepted and loved through the tough bits.  It’s what we all deserve.

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So there you have it – just a few of my facilitation secrets that make the difference between “so-so” group leader and “Holy Sh*t!!!!” group leader.

One or 2 of them will move the needle for you, big time.  Use all 5 and you’ll be ahead of 95% of group leaders out there.

For another one of my favorite facilitation techniques (that completely shifted the energy and results on our Goddess Business School® calls), check out this post on the GBS blog.

It’d be impossible to do this topic justice in a single post, so leave me a comment and let me know what you’d like to see on this.