Collective Wisdom: 9 actions for Ninja Facilitation

The Great thing about the Extraordinary Facilitation courses I run, is that they bring together many interesting people with a wide variety of facilitation experience.

At the beginning of every course we participate in an appreciative enquiry exercise which draws out our knowledge about what  makes facilitation extraordinary and what you could do more of, if you want more extraordinary.

Out of interest, I have compiled the results from at least 6 of these enquiries and it is remarkable how consistent the answers are.  I have boiled it down to 9 critical actions you can take to make your facilitation extraordinary.  The table below collates the original statements; the graphic above pulls it all together.


Get in touch if you want better resolution copies of these resources….

TAKE THE TIME Time and  creating space for unfolding
Slowing down and allowing time
Taking time to reflect and use intuition
Not rushing things allow more time for ideas, discussion connection
Create space and time for mindfulness
Hone your time management and awareness
FOCUS ON THE WHY Focus and braveness
Bring clarity of purpose and clearly identify it
Know the why – what is the purpose
Focus (reducing workload or distractions)
CENTRE YOURSELF Focussed and regular self -reflection
Know what natural skills you bring
Where is your passion and energy coming from? – feed it and plug in
Step outside of yourself
Equanimity (avoiding imbalance)
Embrace vulnerability
Find the real bit of you, you can share or be today
Share and empower the group to share
Lose the imposter syndrome
Have faith and passion
Believe in yourself
Be aware of yourself
refresh yourself
Self care
Self check = open
ROLE MODEL WHAT YOU NEED Model open risk taking behaviour “the stripped back exposure of humanity
Be a courageous example
Come from the heart – purposeful self disclosure
Speak from your truth making an invitation
HEARKEN TO  THE GROUP Listen, really listen
Watch, really watch
Actively Listen
Sensitive, watchful, observant, tuned in
Be consciously aware of issues in the group – writing them out, looking at them, acting upon them
Be aware of the group
Deep curious listening to others and self
Acknowledge they may have other stuff going on
Have the eyes of a child
CREATE A CULTURE OF CONNECTION Nurture and enabling a group culture to develop as a priority
Pepeha or mihimihi
Invite people to bring a symbol or a story
More getting to know each other and icebreakers
Cultural symbolism matters, developing common language matters – music, symbolism, words
invite people to share
Clear outcomes expectations and boundaries
Create a safe space for people to engage for a common purpose – taking the time to draw out contributions
Build relationship
Affirm and value emotional intelligence
Empower those with passion
Empower and sharing
Connection and trust
Break the ice
CREATIVELY AND AUTHENTICALLY ACTIVATE AND ENGAGE Activities and mixing it up to make it fun and engaging
Good food good place
Prioritising fun and lightness when designing
As enjoyable for everyone a possible
Creative thinking
Create opportunities
Get people outside
Engaging and funny – like a video clip
More cool tools
Be open to trying new things
Real – real content
Create ways to engage deeply
Play – activities with a core focus on trust in order to build trust organically
Develop interaction and play
Make action
Get people Moving
Engage with the group
Create honeypots
Ask great questions
Less about content, more about enabling
Lead by doing – everyone is in it together
Use questioning techniques that lead to self learning
Create activities and encourage them
NIMBLY RESPOND Manage turning points in the process, create enough structure and content, then be open to outcomes
Be receptive to the vibe and be flexible
Let go of attachment to outcomes
Trust and openness- no preconceived ideas
Be open
Change the state
Be responsive
Know what needs preparation
Open to change, flexible
Take risks, let go of rigidness
Noticing –  look out for the opportunity in the moment
See what is emergent for the diversity of the group
Go with the flow of each group
Relaxing control
Feedback loops and reviews
Try, reflect, learn
Make mistakes to learn what works
Self reflection and keep learning
Celebrate success
Broaden your exposure – find a mentor, go to workshops

Facilitation Face Palm or How to make the most of your facilitator


The Facilitation Face Palm reference is a bit of fun with serious intent.  My sketchnote* above sets out what I would love more of my clients to know – that is

You could get even more value out of me! 

If you are contemplating hiring a facilitator here are some things to think about first.

*Of course, this  bears no resemblance to any actual clients and no clients were harmed in the making of this sketch 😉


You can download a PDF here or let me know what you think or if you want a bigger printable copy of the sketch

And 2 day facilitation course coming up in Wellington Region- only 4 tickets left tickets here


You asked for a 1 day Introduction to Facilitation

A one day course for emerging facilitators and leaders interested in broadening their people and meeting skills.  This intense and dynamic training is a fantastic way pick up out of the ordinary skills in effective facilitation and leadership so that you can be more engaging and bring about deeper change for the people you work with.


Who is it for?

The course is for people who have already started facilitating or leading groups of people and who are hungry to branch out and try more effective techniques and ideas from outside the box.  This course will expose you to dozens of new tactics and give you are chance to hone your skills in a fun and supportive setting.

Here’s what previous participants said:


“Amazing “

“Great modelling of facilitation – experience it before you try it”

“Very practical experiential learning – heaps of fun – gets you thinking outside the box”

“Come with an open mind – I’ve discovered for example, that I can be more creative than I thought and I can facilitate this for others too”

“Really great for a wide range of previous experiences from novice to experienced.  I learned so much and would definitely come back for a part II”


Learning Outcomes

  • Deepen your understanding of ideas behind facilitation and participatory leadership
  • Develop a bigger tool kit of practical techniques and skills and the strategies to collate them to make facilitation more effective
  • Experience dozens of common and uncommon facilitation techniques including:
    • Working in non-office settings to achieve more impact
    • Developing greater self-mastery in tricky or challenging situations
    • Dealing with controversial issues and divergent perspectives
    • Developing a wider repertoire non-verbal communication skills
  • Try out new techniques for themselves and receive feedback
  • Reflect on your own personal strengths and develop your own follow up action plan


Who runs it?

Your guide is Liana Stupples a facilitator with over 20 years international experience.  Liana has drawn from her diverse work co-ordinating everything from international human rights campaigns, community engagement for controversial resource management issues, national social innovation projects, youth going on outdoor adventures to community singing and distilled the most powerful and extraordinary facilitation techniques for you.

She has worked for all sectors including business, government and not for profit and understands the challenges of good leadership and facilitation in each.  She has trained an equally wide range of people from international diplomats, to woman in prison.

Liana somehow helps you feel relaxed and open to new experiences; she will stick beside you as you challenge yourself. She can find the playful side of most things and she commits to bringing an engaging energy as well as sensitive facilitation skills to every event she runs.  Despite the fun she is serious about building the capacity of people and organisations to tackle the real and the tough stuff. That is why she has been curious all her life about how to better facilitate and lead and wants you to practically benefit from this insight.

Liana developed the successful 2 day Extraordinary Facilitation Course

What you get:

  • Full day training in a fantastic venue
  • Full e-handbook of techniques and tips
  • Free follow up coaching session and peer support forum

[This course is designed to perfectly complement the Introduction to Extraordinary facilitation 1 day course]

Tauranga’s Historic Village

Date(s) – 25/03/2019
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cost: Extra-ordinary Facilitation (1 day) only $125, or

Extra-ordinary Facilitation and Visual Thinking (2 days)- $200

Register with SociaLink


Also coming up: 2 day course in Paekakariki Wellington  May 30 and 31 $550. Tickets are here


contact to reserve your place

Learn visual tools for non-artists!


Extraordinary Visual Thinking

A one day introduction to the power of visual tools for life and work

Tauranga, Christchurch, Wellington


“If you want greater confidence to make and draw without having to be an artist, this is the course for you”


Visual thinking is a fast track to clearer thinking, deeper engagement, better recall and so much more.  This one day course is for people who want to get started on working visually and come away with powerful easy to master tools

Participants will come away with:

  • Knowledge about the benefits of visual thinking
  • Greater confidence to make and draw without having to be an artist
  • Top techniques to work with 8 key elements of visual work:
  • Objects and positions
  • Lines and dots
  • Scale
  • Text
  • Shade and colour
  • Themes and Templates
  • Icons (build your own library of 50 icons!)
  • Characters (top tips to draw Easy Peasy People in your own style)
  • Tips and a chance to try (or buy) the best tools
  • Ideas for how to apply your new skills;
    • Idea for participative visuals when working as a group
    • Ideas for Sketch notes for yourself to record and recall
    • Ideas to clearly communicate with and engage others
  • Create your own course book and take it home to continue your practice
  • Have access to a coach and the community of course participants to continue your learning

[This course is designed to perfectly complement the Introduction to Extraordinary facilitation 1 day course]

Liana’s Graphic facilitation is “awe inspiring” (Facilitation client)

“You know you get the notes from meetings and they go straight in the drawer, but I put that picture you did up on the wall for all my team to see” (Facilitation participant)


Your Guide


Liana Stupples is a creative facilitator who works with organisations and communities for sustainable outcomes.  She specialises in bringing together the worlds of outdoor adventure, singing, making and drawing to tough environmental and social issues.  When she was young she didn’t think she could draw, now she uses drawing and other visual techniques to help her clients clarify, communicate, create and collaborate.  Liana is a fun and engaging teacher and has developed this introductory course to be suitable for anyone who is curious about visual thinking.

Tauranga- discounted course:

This course is in Tauranga’s Historic Village on 26 March from 9-4

It is run in conjunction with the Introduction to Extraordinary Facilitation on 25th March

Cost: Extra-ordinary Visual Thinking (1 day) only $125, or

Introduction to Extra-ordinary Facilitation and Visual Thinking (2 days)- $200

Register with SociaLink


Tickets Wellington CBD 15  May here



Christchurch CBD 30 April here