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Holding the Reigns – Facilitation, a Good & Gentle Grip

(Co-authored with Beth Conley of TTP Facilitation and Laree Kiely of We Will Inc.)


You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but what you may not know is the chaos of the meeting before the start of their first annual journey. It went a little something like this:

  • They played a few reindeer games, but not everyone was involved
  • Each of the reindeer had a different idea about which route would be best
  • The purpose of the evening was not clear
  • There were a few incidents of locked horns
  • Many ideas were shared, but there was no shared action plan at the end

Santa learned that he needed to hold the reigns on the planning meeting, as well as during the trip to make the entire evening a success. Facilitating a meeting is much like holding the reigns during a flight in Santa’s sleigh. There must be a firm grip to guide the process, but enough slack to allow the participants to contribute their talents.

In this light…


…allow me to introduce Beth Conley of TTP Facilitation, who is leading a strategic partnership we are part of to promote healthy successful meeting facilitation.

Beth explains:

TTP Facilitation, in collaboration with Laree Kiely, PhD, from We Will, Inc and Galen Ellis from EPA, Inc, now offers comprehensive Facilitator Certification Programs.

So many roles require good facilitation skills, but very few people are ever given any formal training in how to facilitate. Whether you are running internal team meetings, stakeholder input sessions, focus groups, project teams, or contentious meetings where everyone is mad at each other, there are some basic skills needed. In the event you are put in charge of solving even more complex dilemmas, advanced tools will be necessary to reach optimal results. The certifications available through our cooperative effort give the range of options for developing staff at all levels for all types of meetings. As an organization, you may want to increase the capacity of staff at all levels to run internal or external meetings. Or the organization may need to develop current and future leaders to guide planning or decision-making processes which will take the organization strongly into the future.

Galen speaks:

Several years ago, I was asked by Beth and Laree to co-facilitate a workshop for a rural county here in northern California. The goal of the workshop was to train county staff to effectively facilitate their own staff and community meetings. They called themselves “Ambassadors.” We were tasked with teaching them basic facilitation and meeting planning skills, so they could run their own staff and community meetings with confidence. Since that workshop 3 ½ years ago, the Ambassadors are still actively engaged in running the community input meetings on their county-wide strategic plan along with other programmatic planning meetings. With more staff having the skills to run these meetings, they were able to move the planning process along at a more rapid pace.

In the convening years, our companies have had ever more frequent requests to train organizational staff and sometimes their community stakeholders in effective facilitation methods. After comparing notes, EPA teamed up with Laree Kiely (We Will Inc.) and Beth Conley, (To The Point Facilitation, Inc)., and have designed and launched a comprehensive, three-tiered Facilitator Certification Program. We packaged that initial “Ambassadors” training into our Level 1 Certification and provided an advanced two-day training last June. We have since split that into Level 2 and Level 3 Certifications.

Those of you who follow our posts know how much I believe in the collaborative process. There’s nothing like facilitating collaborative decisions and better yet, helping organizations build a collaborative culture. But after our experience with the Level 2/3 launch, I realized that this partnership with Laree and Beth was one of the most inspiring and rewarding collaborations I’d ever gotten to experience PERSONALLY.

I went home from our two-day launch of the program and wrote to Laree and Beth:

… Before I sign off, I want to share how I’ve found myself talking to others about what we did Monday and Tuesday. What I saw was Laree, with Beth’s heart so deeply connected with hers, fiercely put a stake in the goodness, wisdom, and potential of each person there (including me!) and immediately create a culture of thriving… and JOY among our group. When we were saying goodbye to folks, I looked [one of the participants] in the eye and said, “you are such a joyful, positive person.” She responded, with tears in her eyes, “I wasn’t this way until I met Laree.” I knew exactly what she was talking about. I’m used to feeling my own limitations and am honest about them. But with you two, those limitations lost their solidity. Your belief and trust in me as your co-facilitator – and how you keep fierce attention on strengths, not deficiencies– dissolved some of those beliefs about myself. It gave me confidence, it turned the volume down on my self-criticism, and built my trust both in myself and the magic of this work more fully. When I tell people about the work you are doing, I say, “everything she does and says is to create peace and healing.”

This is why I am unabashedly promoting our new program. It’s much more than a skills training. These workshops go right to each participant’s goodness and shines a light so that our limiting beliefs can’t be as loud as our brilliance. There’s an amazing facilitator in each of us.

Later, Laree wrote back to me:

I wish there were so many more like you out there with your kind spirit, your loving and discerning heart, and your desire to make things and people better, safer, more compassionate. Working with you on the facilitation program has been one of the most joyful and meaningful parts of this year for me. Your note to me after our facilitation workshop really touched my heart. It gives me such comfort that, if I ever wind down my work, you will still be out there to keep people from falling into pain and negativity…

Laree says:

By sharing our letters to one another Galen says it all. I don’t believe in coincidence, but I do believe in magic. Our collaboration provides the tools, experience, and answers for needs that have been unmet in the marketplace. Our shared values and methods and desires have created three powerful and effective facilitation programs for leaders at any level of an organization or community.

Come join us and you’ll see the world differently—with more potential and positivity. People can do the right thing. And YOU can help them learn to participate in their worlds with reason, integrity, and nobility.


Check out the links below to learn more…

To The Point Facilitation, Inc. in a cooperative effort with We Will, Inc. and Ellis Planning Associates, Inc. is proud to announce that Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Facilitator Certification Workshops will be held on the following dates in 2018:


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