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The Evaluator as Facilitator: Considerations for Good Facilitation Practice

For evaluators, there is a high price for bad facilitation: Without our knowing, we may favor our own priorities, forget participants’ needs, submerge stakeholder voices, hide underlying causes, and undermine the impact of our work…”—Dr. Rita Fierro, CEO of Fierro Consulting, LLC and Past AEA Board Member 

Before I joined TCC Group as an evaluation and learning consultant, I was a therapist. My days consisted of listening to people as they tried to navigate and make meaning of their lives. It was during this season of my life that I came to be a steadfast believer in the importance of having good facilitation skills. Good facilitation skills are essential for drawing out meaningful insights during an exchange.

Today, working as an evaluation consultant, I am struck by how much of my work involves this same practice of helping people navigate and make meaning of their experiences or the experiences of others. However, despite the ubiquity of facilitation in evaluation, it has been my unfortunate observation that attention to facilitation as a core skill for evaluators has been scant in training programs and the field at-large.

From moderating focus groups to leading capacity building sessions to presenting findings, evaluators must frequently lean into our roles as facilitators. Federica Bottamedi, a communication specialist in the Office of Evaluation for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in writing about the importance of facilitation in evaluation explains, “People lie at the heart of evaluation, beyond tools, methods and approaches…People provide the wisdom; we need to be good enough to harvest it. Facilitation helps to do exactly that.”

Visit BetterEvaluation for the full list of best practices and resources for evaluators looking to improve their facilitation skills.

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