Which comes first, the facilitator guide or the participant guide?

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There are two distinct schools of thought on this subject. I am squarely in the "facilitator guide first" camp. Because from a well constructed facilitator guide you can generate a participant guide with minimal additional work. A good facilitator guide will follow the flow of the class, step-by-step. A good participant guide will too, but the instructional flow won't be obvious if you write the participant guide first. 

So, start with the facilitator guide and follow these simple tips:

1. Assume
Assume the facilitator does not know what you know.

2. Organize
Organize your facilitator guide to follow the logical flow of preparing for and then delivering the class.

3. Learning Objectives
Use your terminal and enabling learning objectives to set up your modules and lessons (topics and sub-topics).

4. Start
Start each module with a page that lists the module's goal, time allotment, a brief description of what the facilitator will be doing, and the short list of materials needed to run just this chunk of the class.

5. Time & Goal
Start each lesson with it's time allotment and goal. 

6. Follow
As you write, follow the logical flow of the class.

7. Identify
Clearly write out exactly what the facilitator needs to say and do. Include all of the necessary information. For instance, if you direct the facilitator to explain something, include either a script or the key points of what you expect the explanation to cover.

8. Timing
Include timing for significant actions within a lesson, like running a group activity.

9. Voice
Write in the same voice throughout the guide, keeping in mind that you are talking to the facilitator.

10. Be Consistent
Keep your formatting consistent and use a page layout that is easy to follow. 

11. Extract
Once your facilitator guide is complete, extract the content you need to build a participant guide.

12. Add References
Once both guidebooks are built, add participant guide page number references into the facilitator guide.

Writing a thorough facilitator guide will help to ensure a consistent delivery, no matter who the facilitator is. Even if you have a group of facilitators who are experienced and well versed in the subject matter being taught, consider scripting out exactly what is to be said every step of the way. To help overcome objections from those experienced facilitators (who will not be there forever) follow each script with it's key points.

So your flow will be:

  • Say This: Script
  • Key Points: The essence of what needs to be communicated

If you follow these guidelines there will be one more benefit, for you. You will do better work and people will notice. And who doesn't like to shine now and then?

Nancy