The Difference Between a Presentation and Facilitation

Posted by Kristin Arnold on June 9, 2020

A colleague of mine was asked to give a presentation.  As he was doing his research, he discovered that the client wanted more than information delivered as a presentation; the client wanted the participants to identify the issues, wrestle them to the ground, and figure out how to apply the outcomes to their organization.  The client didn’t want a speech; he wanted a facilitated session.

As speakers involve the audience more, they may find their role transitioning from presenting information to facilitating discussions among the participants.  What’s the difference?  The facilitator focuses on the process of the session (the how) rather than the content (what the topic is).

I often say that the difference between presenting and facilitating is the difference between being the “sage on the stage” and the “guide on the side.”

A process facilitator fundamentally believes that the knowledge is resident in the room rather than in the mind of the speaker on the stage.  A process facilitator literally makes things easier for the audience by enabling them to fully participate and collaborate.

In its highest form, facilitation expects the participants to drive the agenda and the facilitator to guide them to achieve their objective.  It also takes more time than a more conventional presentation as the group members tackle their own understandings of the topic.

One is not better than the other.  Presenting and facilitating are different ways to address and connect with your team!


For more information on meeting facilitation and hiring a meeting facilitator, visit this link.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

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