Many facilitators get to use at least one type of visual aid to help them in their facilitation task. Visual aids enhance the learning process of the participants and increase retention of the grasped knowledge during the discussion. When planning to use any visual aid, the material should be prepared ahead of time.
During the preparation stage of your facilitation task, you should have the tools ready instead of having to prepare them at the time of the event. Early preparation reflects the professionalism of the facilitator and earns respect from the participants.
There are various types of visual materials a facilitator can choose from. The most common among these are flipcharts, whiteboards, and overhead transparencies. But a PowerPoint presentation is becoming a more popular and favorite visual aid these days. Other visual materials that can be used in programs and workshops are pictures, videos, and some three-dimensional figures. Some facilitators use more than one visual aid in a given workshop.
For example, when facilitating a leadership seminar, you can prepare a flip chart, make use of white boards, and videotape for your documentary footage. But in facilitating a meeting, usually an overhead projector or PowerPoint presentation will do.
Understanding the Advantages of Visual Aids
It has been mentioned in the earlier paragraph that visual aids enhance the learning process of participants and help them retain the information they got from the discussion. People tend to easily remember a thing and an idea when they have seen it. Visual learning has been proven to be very effective to many participants in any workshop or program.
All facilitation programs benefit a lot from the use of visual materials. It brings out the creativity of the facilitator when it comes to applying a variation in the learning methods. Moreover, it turns a passive and uninteresting session into an enthusiastic and fun-filled event. Attendees get off their seats and move around the room as they exchange ideas and learn from each other through the help of the visual aids.
On the part of the facilitator, visual aids help in promoting clarity of the message and even aids in the decision-making aspect. The use of these tools keeps you within your subject matter and within the flow of the process.
Choosing the Appropriate Visual Aid to Use
Choosing a suitable visual aid to use in the program’s activities is an important decision to make. Every facilitator must make sure that the visual material selected will reinforce the message and support the group’s objectives and the whole process. Visual aid selection may possibly depend on factors such as the type of program or session, the subject matter, population of attendees, and time allocation. Also, use these materials when necessary and when appropriate. Do not use it to flaunt your ability to utilize available resources when the visual aid you chose does not even suit your discussion. Also, do not use too many of these materials in your session as it will only distract attention and may not encourage a lot of interaction.
Flipchart is very commonly used in a small group activity. The use of flipchart provides an ongoing record or note-taking of the group’s ideas and discussions. If you wish to keep the interest of your attendees in the subject matter, use a videotape. Videos also offer useful information. An overhead projector or a PowerPoint presentation aids in reinforcing the key points of the discussion. Depending on the need and requirement of the session, appropriate visual aids should be selected for an effective facilitation.
Creative Facilitating Tools and Techniques
Apart from the use of visual aids, a facilitator may also benefit from the use of other means in facilitating learning. Ice breakers, games, role playing, brainstorming, group drills and exercises, and impromptu dialogues are creative ways in supporting a learning process. For a quick session or facilitation activity, any of these methods will help in the course of the discussion. These learning techniques promote a healthy interaction and builds teamwork among the participants.
The use of visual aids and other facilitating techniques definitely helps you in keeping the process easy and smooth until the goals are achieved by the group. But as a professional facilitator, you must know the essence of these materials and the benefits it can provide to the whole facilitation process.