Silencing the facilitator – looking at facilitator turn taking

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —April 9, 2006
Filed in Communication

An interesting and thought provoking post by Johnnie Moore on Trust, Control, Power, Silence.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the notion of silence in meetings. I’ve found silences increasingly powerful points in meetings I’ve been facilitating.

I’ve also been thinking / reflecting on this. You may have seen my last post on building trust in anecdote circles – use silence. To follow this further, I wondered what percentage of “turn-taking” facilitators have for different group processes. A facilitator takes a ‘turn’ whenever they make a spoken utterance in a group. The figure below shows some initial stats I have pulled together based on live transcript data for these facilitated processes.

Facilitator Turn Taking

The initial findings suggest:

  • in more traditional group facilitation the facilitator takes a ‘turn’ speaking almost every second go (eg. Facilitator – Participant – Facilitator – Participant …)
  • in a small anecdote circle (3–4 people) the facilitator takes a ‘turn’ speaking 3 out of every 10 times
  • in a large anecdote circle (8–10 people) the facilitator takes a ‘turn’ speaking approximately 1 in every 10 times
  • in open space (averaging it out) the facilitator takes a ‘turn’ approximately 1 in every 25 times

Thinking about empowerment and trust experienced in groups, I wonder whether there might be a trend towards less facilitator turn taking and greater trust and empowerment within groups?

What level of facilitator turn taking do you have?

About  Andrew Rixon


  1. Andrew: Thanks for the links and for the fascinating statistics. My hunch is there is a big link between turn taking and empowerment… I wonder if there would be credible way of measuring that?

  2. Andrew Rixon says:

    Great question Johnnie. I wonder….?

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