Published: April 3, 2017   Updated: April 3, 2017

For many of us, working with a large group of 50+ people is an intimidating or terrifying prospect — the idea of 100, or even 500+, might feel unimaginable. Michelle Cummings of Training Wheels, who has facilitated groups of 1600+, shares in this video some practical tips for facilitating large groups.

Major takeaways:

  • Break them into smaller groups
  • Make sure they can hear and see you
  • Trust them to follow your instructions

To hear more from Michelle (including her wildest facilitation adventure) check out her full-length interview here!


Question: How do you facilitate large groups?

MC: “So the group of 1600 hundred if you think about it as soon as I made that checkerboard on the ground I was no longer working with a group of 1600 anymore I was working with multiple small groups of 52 people. So if you, don’t let the size of the groups necessarily intimidate you. As long as you have great sound system and people can still see you that makes or breaks really large programs rather than, what’s your cut off. If people can still hear you and see you then you can facilitate a really large group. You really just have to change the activities to meet the size of the group. But really even with a group of 160, I love easy math, groups of 10 are my favorite. If I’m working with a group of 100, I have 10 groups of 10. And so, I just bring 10 of whatever it is I want to do and a lot of small group stuff.

You know, and then ahead of time if it’s just you as the facilitator and you want to make sure that everyone is answering this question, this question, you know, “what, so what, now what.” There is no shame in pre-printing out questions that you would like them to ask in a small group. Because or providing the body part debrief. Providing a printout of a picture with the questions or something like that. Metaphorically they’re still going there, they are still getting really metaphorically rich dialogue. And again they going to take it and they’re going to do what you ask them to do. Right so in a small group of 10 there is accountability there in the small group.

And then, like I do… even in my small groups of 10 even if I consider that more my pairing and sharing I would still bring it back to the large group of 100. “Does anyone care to share? What was a really great answer you heard in your small group?” And hear one or two so that now you have a large group shared experience even in a group of 100.”

Written by FacilitatingXYZ Team

This is the account that the FacilitatingXYZ team uses. FacXYZ is co-facilitated by Meg and Sam, and brings in expertise, knowledge, and lived experience from facilitators far and wide. Read more about us here.

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