A Few More Essential Facilitation Guidelines

Here are a few more guidelines to help you facilitate an engaging and impactful meeting:

Encourage Participation

Encouraging group discussion will help you cover all points of view and ideas. This will create better quality decisions as well as highly motivated participants; they will feel that attending your meetings is worthwhile. When participants see their impact on the decision making process, ideas, and activities, commitment to the plan improves. If one or two people monopolize your meeting, the quality of the plans you produce will suffer.

Keep Track of Key Items

Have someone other than the chair or facilitator record key decisions and action items. It is not necessary to record every detail, but make sure you capture the key points, and reiterate them when appropriate.

 

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Meeting Follow Up

Within 24 hours circulate a brief report on decisions, individual responsibilities, next steps, next meeting dates, and so on. Quick action reinforces the importance of meeting and reduces errors of memory. Finally, follow up to see that the actions are being taken. If you do not follow up, all your effort may be wasted.

Almost everything about running a successful meeting involves being deliberate in what you do and say. Flip charts work well, because when you write something down, participants will disagree if you misrepresented their intentions. Verbally reiterating a participant’s point, or summarizing the conversation also works well. Give your participants every opportunity to speak up if they disagree. It is better to have disagreement happen during the meeting rather than after its finished.

One More Facilitation Tip

Many people say that speakers tend to rely on PowerPoint as a crutch, and that “good” speakers should be able to get on without. That may be true for speakers, but having a PowerPoint to give you cues, and guide your participants through your agenda can be an invaluable tool for facilitating a meeting.

Take the main items of your agenda and create a slide for each, and fill in the sub points as they make sense. Having this visual helper up on a screen throughout your meetings is a great way to let participants know where you are at in your process – and they usually appreciate the reference.

 

What are some other ways association professionals can further strengthen facilitation skills?

Essential Facilitation Guidelines

When you facilitate a meeting, these essential guidelines will help ensure a successful meeting for both team leader and participants:

Be Prepared

Arrive early to make sure any necessary equipment is set up and ready to operate at the start of the meeting. If you are not fully prepared when the meeting begins, you will waste time and appear unprofessional.

Start and Finish on Time

Always start and finish meetings on time regardless of late participants. Try to avoid restarting the meeting or recapping information for those who were late. This is tough to do with senior folks, but they will respect you for it. Always adjourn at least 5-10 minutes before your scheduled finish time, so participants can arrive on time for their next meeting. If you already have a culture where being on time is expected, this will be easy, if you have the other kind of culture…be tough.

 

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Stick to the Agenda

Stick to your agenda and keep conversation focused on the topic – don’t wait until the end of the meeting to try to catch up. Feel free to ask for only constructive and non-repetitive comments. Tactfully end discussions when they are getting nowhere.

Open with your Objective, and Close with your Accomplishments

Briefly reiterate purposes and established ground rules at the beginning of your meeting. End with a summary of accomplishments, clarification of agreements, and next steps.

Actively Manage your Meeting

Actively manage the meeting with three responsibilities in mind: stay on track, stimulate participation, and accomplish your objectives. Don’t allow participants to take your meeting off agenda. The best way to do this successfully is to manage your agenda in chunks. Don’t wait until the end of the meeting to try and get back on schedule. Park any off-topic items for discussion at the end of the meeting or at a later date.