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We have already thought about some very practical preparations, and we touched upon the fact that you need to prepare yourself to facilitate. This is an opportunity for you to consider some of those areas about self-preparation so that you can get the best out of your facilitated session. One of the things that we asked you to consider earlier on and would ask you to consider again now is, "Am I the right person to facilitate this session? Having considered what the aims, the objectives are, having thought through the methods, am I going to be able to deliver this session as effectively as possible, or is there somebody who could do it better than me?" That is not to say you are not great at doing a whole range of things, but it is just about asking yourself, "Am I the best person for this job?" because chances are you will only get one crack at each group. If you alienate a group or if you have some difficulties in a group, they are very unlikely to want to engage with you. So, ask yourself, "Am I the best person to deliver this piece of facilitation?"

Preparing yourself for some criticism about your organisation or the items that are dear to your heart is quite important when you are considering facilitating a session. Because if you respond negatively to any critical comments, if you get defensive, that is not you maintaining that neutral position. You are not there to promote your organisation, you are there to hear comments, gather ideas, facilitate discussion. Ask yourself, "Am I going to remain neutral? What is it that might push my buttons? What is it that might get me defensive?" And prepare to receive some of that criticism. Think about, "How will I respond to any criticism in a neutral way?" Think about how you can take questions and take questions away from the facilitated session, and come back to those individuals who have asked you a question that maybe you find challenging or difficult. Part of your preparation is asking yourself, "Am I the right person for this job?" Another part of your preparation is asking yourself, "How am I going to remain neutral throughout this situation, even in light of some critical remarks?"

One of the other things that we asked you to think about is when you are implementing your facilitated session, be prepared for a range of different individuals in the group, be prepared to change track. We have asked you to plan and prepare, but we are also asking you to be prepared to change track, adopt different methods. Because in your session, you may have people with a range of differing needs, so asking yourself, "Have I got ways to get a range of people engaged?" Some of those issues that people might come up with are, "I do not want to talk to a big group of 20 people." Think about having smaller group activities. It may be you will have some individuals who do not want to speak up in front of a small group, so how will they give you the information you need as an individual? There are also a range of other areas that might stop people engaging with you. Some of those might be physical, some of those might be emotional. And in another video, you will have the opportunity to think about some equality and diversity issues, and how you can actually take on board those areas and design a facilitated session that will engage with as many people as possible, in the best way possible for those individuals.

On occasions, you will be wanting to engage with people who have a range of differing needs. Some of those needs might involve some physical disabilities. So you may be wanting to engage with people who are hearing impaired, who have visual impairments. One of the things you will need to think about preparing is support structures for those individuals so that they can come into the room and know that they will be supported to have their voices heard. It is really important that people can come into that room and feel as comfortable as possible, so consider those support structures that you can put in place. Healthwatch Essex has run a range of projects, and one of the projects that you are now going to hear about is around impairments. You are going to just now see a little video clip which will give you some indications around how Healthwatch Essex has managed a range of situations.

Through collaborating with our partners, we were able to capture lived experience of the people that are hard to reach. We then used this information to influence decision-makers, such as commissioners. But the important part is then feeding this information back to the people we have listened to.

You have engaged with everybody, you have run your facilitated session. A really important final part of preparation is to make sure that you have got some feedback mechanisms. Feeding back to the group when you are in the room, a summary of what you have heard them saying is a really useful thing to do. But those individuals are going to want to know what you are doing with the information that you have gathered from them. It is vital that you let them know where that information is going to go, how it is going to be summarised, and then letting them know perhaps the responses to the report that you have created, the presentation that you have done, the videos that you have posted online.

So there is something here about how are we going to collate the data that we have collected? How are we going to turn that data into usable information? And what medium are we going to use to present that information and who are we going to present it to? So letting your group know that and then finding a way of letting your group know how it went. That is another part of the preparation that you are going to need to do before you even start the facilitation. Because people are going to walk into that room and they are going to ask you. They are going to say to you, "Where is this going? What are you doing with it?" And if they do not get the answer from you, potentially, they won't talk to you in the first place. So that is another piece of preparation that you need to be thinking about.