Youth as Facilitators— Making it the Norm

Youth can facilitate a group just as well as an adult sometimes. Research shows that young people, especially teens, are more apt to follow the advice and instruction of a peer in some instances before they follow the advice of an adult. Think about it— whose opinion is more valuable— someone who has more in common with you and living a similar experience as you NOW or someone who is older, never been a teen during your era and can only give personal testimonies of “back in the day”?
Peer facilitation is highly effective and can give adult facilitators insight on some techniques that they can infuse in their own facilitation style. Incorporate peer facilitation in your agenda and allow opportunities for youth to shine as facilitators. It’s two-fold— you are contributing to advancing youth development and you get a little break while you’re at it!

By Khadijah Ali-Coleman


Fudge-ing is for Brownies!!!!


Do you pride yourself on your stellar skills of thinking on your feet and coming up with fun activities off the top of your head even when you aren’t too sure of the subject matter?

Do you often play off the feeling of the air and make up activities as you go along, rarely addressing what the topic is because you aren’t prepared?

Do you use charm and wit and your ability to relate on the youth’s level to get you by when it comes to facilitating.

Do you avoid facilitating to older youth or adults because you are afraid they will ask you too many questions during your presentation?
If you answered yes to at least two of the above and do it more often than not when facilitating, there are three words for you— don’t FUDGE it!!
When you’re FUDGE-ing, you’re often
F– Faking it. At some point, you are pretending that you are more of an authority in an area that you really know very little about. To avoid being a faker, make sure, first, that you have researched well the area that you are speaking on. If you are confronted with questions that you can’t answer, don’t hesitate to say “I don’t know”, and, if possible, offer an opportunity for discussion or input from the group. Sometimes group members may have answers that you don’t have. Fakers are usually called out at some point in their facilitation career.

U– Underestimating your audience. Fudgers usually underestimate their audience when they feel comfortable facilitating without proper preparation. Fudgers typically believe that no one will realize that they have no clue that others realize they don’t know what they are talking about or that no one really cares one way or the other. Fudgers who underestimate their audience don’t take into consideration that some, if not most, prefer to have someone facilitate to them who is informative and knowledgable of their subject matter. Though it is true, that if you are presenting information, it is likely that more people in your audience are new to your subject matter. However, there may be members of your audience who not only know your subject matter, but know it so well they can identify the areas you DON’T know. This is evident in the questions they ask and the way they may provide follow-up to your answers. Don’t embarrass yourself by underestimating your audience.

D– Deflecting attention from the areas you are clueless on. Fudgers who do this usually employ such tactics as not including a question period during their presentation, handing out written literature on the subject and telling group participants to read it on their “own time” though they will most likely have no idea what it is they are reading because you haven’t given them any concrete information to begin with. Fudgers who deflect are typically those who rarely study the subject beforehand and use handouts a lot without any instruction to accompany them and prepare youth to complete them.

G– Grossly Exaggerating. Grossly
exaggerating muddles your credibility and affects trust in your words when audience members learn from another source the reality. Fudgers who grossly exaggerate tend to talk incessantly and rely on the shock factor. Feel comfortable with what you know, don’t feel you have to grossly exaggerate.
E– Entertainment in lieu of Education. You can be funny and beguiling without it being at the expense of the subject content. Education and entertainment can go hand in hand but entertainment does not replace the content matter.

There are personal consequences to FUDGE-ing through facilitation.

People who FUDGE as the norm never really develop their facilitation skills if they never address the truth about their preparation habits, or lack thereof. Though FUDGERs typically have an ease in speaking in front of people and/or utilizing creative methods in facilitating (incorporating music, arts, movement, etc.), they must learn that this is no substitute for knowledge of your subject matter. Though no facilitator will know everything or expected to know everything, it is paramount that a facilitator at least take the time to learn the basics of their subject matter.

Creating outcomes and objectives, creating supplemental information to use as a structure of your presentation and having reminder cards are helpful ways to ensure preparation and give structure to your presentation. FUDGE-ing is not the answer!!!

Concept developed and written by Khadijah Ali-Coleman (c) 2005