Facilitation skills

for science and society dialogue

This series of five workshop modules looks at the skills necessary to facilitate conversations that link science and research with societal needs and values. As facilitators, we play a crucial role in structuring this dialogue: exploring perspectives, identifying common ground and building consensus. Specific techniques can be employed to ensure participants are comfortable to engage and work towards having equal voices in the discussion. 


About the programme

Bringing together facilitators from across Europe


This course will be of relevance to researchers, science communicators and  facilitators from across Europe who are involved in dialogue activities that bring people together to discuss societal questions around research, from science cafés to participatory research and co-creating innovation.

A series of modules explore and develop a range of skills:

  • Establishing a framework for dialogue and opening discussion
  • Active listening and formulating questions
  • Divergent and convergent thinking and consensus decision-making
  • Multi-stakeholder discussions and challenging situations
  • Online and hybrid facilitation

See Programme Schedule below for the full description of each module.

Insight from a broad range of experiences

This workshop series is led by the Stickydot team who have a wealth of expertise in facilitating dialogue and participatory processes around research and innovation, on and offline. These sessions will be held in English, online via Zoom. They draw on existing good practices and theory both within our sector and further afield. They are dynamic and interactive, ensuring plenty of time for discussion and sharing of experiences.

“The training has already impacted our team, as members have implemented new facilitation methods, leading to improved collaboration and decision-making. We highly recommend Stickydot’s facilitation training for organisations seeking to boost their team’s skills.” – Ryan Titley, Director of Projects, ERRIN, Belgium

“The Stickydot facilitation course enabled me to learn (and try!) new techniques in a safe and fun environment. The sessions were really interactive and kept me on my toes! A big bonus was meeting other facilitators so we could learn from each other. Highly recommend!” – Kate Baker, Senior Research Fellow, University of Exeter, UK

“I had a great experience during the Facilitation Skills course: the quality of the trainers, the materials and the exercises proposed, generated a very safe and comfortable environment of participation. I think that all the group felt the same way and the other trainees were also a source of inspiration and learning to me. I felt challenged in a very positive way, and I got very useful tools for improving my facilitation skills.” – Claudia Aguirre. Director. TRACES / Espace des Sciences Pierre-Gilles de Gennes. Paris, France

Programme schedule

A facilitator’s role

As facilitators of science and society dialogue, what does our role entail? This introductory workshop will explore the responsibilities we take on regarding our participants and the topics we address. We will look at what sets us apart from facilitators on other issues: how does the need for evidence-based discussion affect our objectivity? How can we embed this reflexivity into our practice?

Establishing a framework and active listening

When we bring a group together for the first time for dialogue, we need to affirm not only our role as facilitators, but the role of the participants. How do we set the scene for an inclusive discussion from the outset? What role can co-creation play in establishing norms for interaction among our participants? This session will also be a chance to test out a key technique for making sure our participants are heard and understood: active listening.

Questions and consensus

What makes a great question? Closed or open, neutral or leading, clarifying or reflective, the questions we put to our participants are crucial in shaping the dialogue that takes place. This session will explore the theory and provide an opportunity for practice. We will apply these skills around active listening and questions to the context of building consensus: how do we find common ground?

Brainstorming and prioritisation

This session will explore the specific context that we come across often: a brainstorming and prioritisation exercise. How can we help our participants to step up and contribute creatively in a brainstorm setting? And what do we need to bear in mind when guiding them through assigning priority to the outcomes? A peer feedback session will ensure we explore this exercise from a range of perspectives.

Challenging contexts

This final session will be a chance to put into practice the skills we have been developing across the series. As facilitators, we often bring together people from a range of professional profiles. What do we need to bear in mind when the conversation includes scientists, policymakers, activists or industry professionals alongside the general public? Group dynamics can vary greatly according to cultural contexts or individual mindsets: we will share good practices and test them out in roleplays to reflect on how to address a set of tricky situations.

Practical information

Would you like to run this workshop for your organisation? Get in touch: info@stickydot.eu


Michael designs and facilitates dialogue activities around research. He has worked with organisations including SAPEA, the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism; the Free University of Brussels (VUB), Innoviris, the Brussels institute for R&I and EASO, the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

Marzia facilitates stakeholder engagement leading to social innovation and co-design. She has worked with ECSA (the European Citizen Science Association), EU-funded projects such as TRANSFORM and MOSAIC, and institutions like Cariplo Factory.

Maria has been working on public engagement projects for more than 8 years. She ran numerous training sessions for projects such as SySTEM2020 and Sparks. Recent assignments include the organisation of a series of participatory webinars for EUFIC, the European Food Information Council.

Michael Creek - Stickydot

Michael Creek

Co-founder & Lead Facilitator

“When it comes to facilitation, what I love is finding ways to get people talking, making everyone’s voice heard and ensuring people commit to what happens next.”

Michael focuses on facilitation and stakeholder engagement within Stickydot activities. He develops, runs and trains people in participatory formats for dialogue. One particular focus of his work is within health policy, bringing together patients, practitioners, civil society, research and industry to reach consensus on policy issues.

Marzia Mazzonetto - Stickydot

Marzia Mazzonetto

Co-founder & CEO

“I really enjoy how diverse my work is. Open innovation is multi-stakeholder but also multicultural, international and multilingual, providing a whole set of challenges to rise to.”

With a background in social science and science journalism, Marzia’s main areas of expertise is developing methodologies that support multi-stakeholder engagement. She is passionate about sustainable and inclusive co-creation processes leading to social innovation and participatory policies.

Maria Zolotonosa - Stickydot

Maria Zolotonosa

Co-founder & Head of Projects

“What makes my job truly wonderful and stimulating is the community of people around me. Public engagement professionals are not only open and forward-thinking but also extremely dedicated to the cause.“

Maria oversees all activities and training programmes at Stickydot. Her main areas of expertise are co-creation and public engagement processes in the context of large European projects. She is passionate about informal science learning and STEAM projects.

Florence Gignac


“It is inspiring to contribute to a scientific research environment that remains anchored in the realities and interests of a variety of individuals. Collaborating with the public takes your scientific knowledge off the beaten track and challenges you to take a creative approach to your scientific practice. Go ahead: once you try participatory research, you won’t look back!”

At Stickydot, Florence provides support on citizen science and public engagement projects. Florence has been applying participatory approaches in the fields of environment and public health for over five years. She cares deeply about making every step of a scientific research project inclusive, creative and sustainable.