How to Give Clear Instructions When Facilitating

It’s a classic facilitation blunder: You start giving instructions for an activity, and as you’re talking, people begin the activity. You try to reel in those eager participants so you can get the rest of your instructions out. Then, as everyone starts, you realize you forgot something important and need to get the group back together for more instructions.

The best facilitators are extremely deliberate about how they give instructions.

I remember watching Bob Pike facilitate a huge ballroom with 110 participants. Every word counted. For each activity, he’d calmly give just enough instructions, start the activity, and everyone would be doing the right thing. No false starts, no confusion.

As I’ve worked to improve this skill in my own facilitation, I’ve grown a checklist from my own experience and from what I’ve observed other facilitators do. Download your own copy, and use it to make your sessions better. Let me know in the comments how it works for you.

Download the Activity Instructions Checklist


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Richard Lawrence

Is co-owner of Agile For All. He trains and coaches people to collaborate more effectively with other people to solve complex, meaningful problems. He draws on a diverse background in software development, engineering, anthropology, and political science. Richard is a Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach and Certified Scrum Trainer, as well as a certified trainer of the accelerated learning method, Training from the Back of the Room. His book, Behavior-Driven Development with Cucumber, was published by Addison-Wesley in 2019 (for more information, visit

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