operator training


The living core of VTF is the person operating the text graphic channel      the visual telefacilitator. What is the required expertise of the operator, how much time does it take to acquire that expertise, and what is the fee range for operators?

At first glance, VTF sounds like a completely new and very odd activity. But actually, it is just another form of making meeting notes, with the difference that now they are synoptic (summarizing) and on the Web. People who have previous experience in recording meetings on whiteboards, blackboards or overhead transparencies will already have most of the skills they need.

As for those who have no previous experience in meeting recording, the essence of facilitation is careful listening and quick writing, which skills are possessed in principle by any educated adult. However as we all know, careful listening is a non trivial skill and takes practice. The key to careful listening is the desire to serve the group as a transparent medium who is re presenting the group's ideas      which of course is exactly a matter of attitude and the willingness to assume the previously mentioned "facilitative stance".

For an average person who has never done any previous meeting recording, 2 to 4 hours of studying the concepts of visual telefacilitation plus 10 to 20 hours of practice is probably sufficient for that person to then be able to add significant value to any telemeeting as a visual telefacilitator. (Warning: this is only the roughest of estimates and takes for granted a high degree of motivation).

Beyond that, additional experience increases the value. Visual telefacilitation is a service profession like therapy or the law. Someone who has recently learned the fundamentals can probably to do a good job for you, and, if you can afford it, you may want to spend more money and hire more experience.

The range of fees for telefacilitation is roughly the same as for therapy and legal counsel: US$ 30/hour (therapy interns and paralegals) to US$ 300/hour (famous therapists and senior partners).

For those interested in becoming visual telefacilitators, the basic principles have been set forth in this paper, and in more detail in [Lakin96]. In addition, for information on facilitation and meeting recording in general, works by [Ball71], [Straus76], and [Sibbet91] are recommended. In those writings the important difference between facilitation and recording is discussed in illuminating detail (which distinction has of necessity has been glossed over here), and in addition various useful models of the facilitation process are presented.

And finally, one obvious question must be answered: Can a member of the teleconferencing group be the telefacilitator? The short answer is, No. The role of telefacilitator is by definition one of a person standing outside the group and observing the communication process. So therefore that same person cannot also be a participating member of the telegroup. And, practically speaking, telefacilitation requires such a high level of concentration in listening to what everyone else is saying and summarizing it that the person will have no consciousness left to think up their own comments and make them. For more discussion, see [Lakin96].

© 1997, 1999 PGC