Leading DEI Conversations Info Session
header image of accessible icons on a keyboard
What Is Digital Accessibility and Why Should You Care?

Tips for Leading DEI Conversations

I never thought of myself as a public speaker.  I also never thought I could lead a room of people through a workshop or program. The younger me would laugh if I told her that I was a full-time DEI facilitator. While I still would say I'm an introverted person who prefers for others to take the lead, I do love being a part of the process of the learning and growing that I witness when leading conversations. 

I fell into the DEI practitioner space when I attended graduate school for a degree in higher education administration. I fell in love with facilitation and having vulnerable conversations during my graduate assistantship in the Office of Diversity Services which was in charge of the university’s DEI workshops and training programs. This position also provided the backdrop to a lot of my own identity exploration and learning. Even on the bad days, there's so much learning that happens for both myself and the participants. 

While facilitation is something I love, it's not always easy. I've facilitated challenging workshops which sometimes have left me feeling drained and yearning for my couch. During these times, I've even questioned if this job was “worth it.”  I truly believe that it's been during these workshops in which I've learned the most about myself both personally and as a facilitator. It's important to remember you're never done learning and improving and I think that's especially true as a facilitator in a workshop setting. 

 

The Leading DEI Conversations program is designed to help you develop and practice facilitation skills and frameworks you can apply in the workplace. This program will help you learn how to discuss topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion, how to reflect on and leverage power and privilege, how to hold space for yourself and others during difficult moments, and most importantly, how you can exercise accountability through a holistic lens of self and communal care.

BEGIN YOUR FACILITATION JOURNEY
 

Tips for Leading DEI Conversations

You'll learn what works for you, but below  is some advice I wish someone shared with me when I first started out as a facilitator:

Prep Tech
Technical difficulty both in person or virtually can appear unprofessional and set the wrong tone for the workshop or training.

Check In with Yourself 
It's always important to check in with yourself before leading difficult conversations to make sure you're in the right headspace and note what might be an activator or trigger for you that day.

Check In with Your Co-Facilitator
If you have a co-facilitator with you during the training or the workshop, you're a team. It's important for you to be in sync with one another and learn each other’s facilitation and communication styles especially when navigating difficult conversations. 

Observations
Making mistakes and learning from others are two ways to learn. Watch other facilitators so you can adopt their strategies and style for your own workshops and trainings. Observation also provides a great way to learn from mistakes from others, or to see how someone else  handles a difficult situation. 

Embrace the Silence
This is a skill that has taken some time to perfect but I think it's a skill every facilitator should have. It's important to embrace the silence, not only for the introverts in the space but to allow folks to gather their thoughts. Silence can be powerful when it comes to sitting with concepts that can be uncomfortable. 

Keep Time
I try as much as possible – if not always – to end right at the time a workshop is scheduled to end. No one wants to be kept on Zoom or held in a room just because the facilitator can’t manage time properly.

Activities are Key
Different activities have helped both myself and the participants have fun and learn especially in longer workshops. 

Plan Breaks
Breaks are your friend. Breaks also provide a time for you to check in with yourself as a facilitator, check in with a co-facilitator, and have participants be able to talk to you in private. 

Do Something Nice 
Take a walk, have a coffee, eat a snack, or simply do my favorite thing: stare into the void for at least 15 minutes as you decompress. 

Learn From Others
I'm constantly trying to improve my craft as a facilitator, whether it's through books, articles, podcasts, or videos. Here are some resources that have helped me:


Are you ready to participate in our upcoming Leading DEI Conversations program to learn how to facilitate conversations at your company? Sign up today!