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Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

Sep 20, 2023

After over 100 episodes spanning 4 years, Pilar Orti is stepping down from her role as co-host on the Facilitation Stories podcast. In this special episode, Pilar joins regular co-hosts Helene Jewell and Nikki Wilson to reflect on her time on the show and what comes next.


How It All Began


The idea for Facilitation Stories emerged organically at an in-person meetup hosted by the England and Wales chapter of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) back in 2019. Pilar had given a talk on using podcasting to build community and connection in remote teams. Afterwards, some attendees suggested starting a podcast for the chapter. Pilar agreed to help get it off the ground.


Along with Martin Gilbraith's support, Pilar worked with Helene and another co-host to produce the first 4 episodes and establish a regular cadence. After some early experimentation, they settled into releasing 1 episode per month. The organic, unstructured nature of those early days established the podcast's informal, conversational tone that continues today.


Why Listeners Connect


A big part of the podcast's appeal is its sense of community. As Pilar says, it feels like "listening to your friends." Most facilitation podcasts focus on tips, tutorials, and sales pitches. Facilitation Stories stands out for spotlighting members of the IAF England and Wales community sharing stories and learning from real life experiences.


The hosts' genuine enthusiasm, warmth, and enjoyment comes across in every episode. According to Pilar, her favorite episodes are the unscripted conversations between two or more co-hosts. The rapport and natural interactions make listeners feel like they're right there in the room.


Evolution of Facilitation During the Pandemic


Pilar, Helene, and Nikki reflected on how facilitation has changed over the past few years, accelerated by the pandemic. Virtual facilitation has become more ubiquitous and accepted. More organizations recognize the need for facilitators to help guide productive online meetings and events. Hybrid events also present new challenges facilitators must adapt to.


On a skills level, facilitators have had to expand their digital literacy and learn to facilitate exclusively through a screen. Soft skills like reading the virtual room, fostering connections, and keeping energy levels up become even more crucial.


Co-facilitation partnerships have also blossomed as the complexity and demand increases. Facilitators increasingly team up with those outside the profession who bring complementary expertise.


Key Takeaways


A few key themes emerge from Pilar's time on Facilitation Stories:


Start simple - When launching a new podcast, focus on consistent execution over production value. Get the first 10 episodes done to build momentum.


Rotate roles - Swap hosting and production duties between team members. It keeps things dynamic while building everyone's skills.


Personality matters - Let your authentic style and personality come through. This attracts the right listeners who connect with the content.


Find your niche - Targeting a specific community makes it easier to grow an engaged audience, as demonstrated by the show's IAF focus.


Value enjoyment - Do it because you find joy in the process and camaraderie. Passion shines through and makes it worthwhile.


What Comes Next


While sad to say goodbye to Facilitation Stories, Pilar is embarking on an exciting new chapter. She shared some of the creative pursuits and professional projects she'll be focusing on:


Developing an audio course on asynchronous communication


Exploring the comics medium and using visual storytelling


Continuing fiction writing and other literary projects


Building her podcasting expertise through new shows and helping others level up their podcasts


Authoring books on topics like co-hosting or using Trello for podcast production


After years of client work, training, and teaching, Pilar is ready to put more energy into generating original content and productions. She remains as passionate as ever about podcasting and plans to start new shows in addition to advising others.


When asked if she had any parting wisdom, Pilar expressed full confidence that Helene and Nikki will continue taking the podcast to new heights. She may no longer be there, but the strong community built on Facilitation Stories will carry on