Seven basic Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to ease a Worksh…

Seven basic Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to ease a Worksh…

The meaningful questions you need to ask your client before you proceed.

Picture this scenario – the cold call

“Hi, I’m from Limestone Coast Environmental Authority. I’ve been given your name. We’re after a facilitator for our corporate planning day. Are you obtainable?”


“Hi this is the Director of IT. I’ve been told you ease meetings. We need to get agreement for our divisional contribution to the Corporate Strategic Plan. Can you help us?”

These calls always arrive when you’re wrapped in a towel, calming yourself before a conflict resolution workshop or in the dentist waiting room. If you can’t focus, position a time to call back. The scouts were right when they said, “be prepared!”

Starting off

Most clients don’t call if they have the skills in their work team to solve the problem. They are often under pressure and maybe haven’t had the opportunity to talk by the issue with anyone. Listen well, mirror back and be generous!

Right from the start you’re building a relationship. If you don’t win this job, the client will remember that you were engaged and interested.

Develop a reliable contracting course of action which will sustain you to ask the right questions and uncover what’s going on.

A chief set of questions to ask should include the following:

  1. What’s prompting the decision to do this workshop now? (Listen for the answer. Is there a strategic need; a desire by the client to solve an noticeable problem or perhaps a requirement of funding a body. It’s important to know what’s driving the issue.)
  2. Who will be involved? (Are there decision makers, meaningful stakeholders and/or participants with a contested view of the issue?)
  3. Has this group discussed these issues before? How long ago? What were the outcomes? (Ask for reports from past workshops)
  4. What are your expectations about a report? (How much detail will be required? Who’s the target audience?)
  5. What’s the budget? (If the client asks you about your fees -offer to send a quote once you’ve worked out how much work is involved.)
  6. What would a successful outcome look like? (Listen well. This will help frame the Purpose, Outcome and course of action)
  7. Is there anything else you need to let me know about this issue? (Such as the political situation, group of stakeholders, conflict between participants etc. )

Before you start the workshop

Clients who regularly work with facilitators give straight forward answers to these questions. Others may need to analyze the issues with you. They may not know how to get there, but they usually know what they want.

Resist the temptation to agree to a course of action before you’re clear about the purpose and outcome.

Your client will also have questions. They’ll want to know that you have the skill and confidence to do this work. Explain how you’ve tackled similar issues; ask if they’d like a project fleeting with examples of past work and the name and contact of a past client.

If the scope of the project is beyond you, consider co-easing with a colleague who has worked in the field. If you need sustain to talk by your course of action design, use the FIC on-line forum.


If alarm bells are sounding and you’re feeling queasy, it’s time to test your assumptions!

This is where you need all your facilitator awareness. If you feel there may be some disconnect between the client and the participants, ask if you can meet with some meaningful participants and test your assumptions.

When there isn’t a client/facilitator match, you may suggest you’re not the best person for the job.

I do this when…

  • I feel my chief values don’t match with those of the client;
  • It’s a one-off job that requires days of preparation at my expense;
  • It has the possible to stress me out to the point where I’m unable to deliver for my regular clients.

Trust your gut feeling, it works for you as a facilitator and it will work for you with clients.

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