Meeting Facilitation Success

So you’ve been asked to facilitate a meeting but you don’t know where to start? You may not have received training for it but if you follow some basic tips here you shouldn’t run into any huge problems.

As a facilitator it’s your job to make sure that the meeting is scheduled, a room is booked and it flows smoothly from start to finish and within the allocated time frame. You might be nervous when it comes to facilitating your first meeting but once you understand what your responsibilities are and prepare in advance you’ll do a great job. Look on it as part of your ongoing training within the company.

Before the meeting ever happens it’s important that you create a clear and brief agenda for it and e-mail it to all future attendees. The agenda should clearly outline exactly what the meeting is designed to achieve and what the final outcome is expected to be. Ask for feedback on the agenda to make sure there’s no confusion on the day itself.

The next step is to calendar this business event with whatever collaboration tool your company uses. If you don’t have a system like that then simply make sure that you e-mail every person due to attend and ask them to reply to confirm that they will be attending; or not for that matter.

If this is the first time a specific group of people have shared a meeting then an ice-breaker is worth thinking about. Just keep your ice-breaker as simple as possible – some people aren’t comfortable participating in ice-breakers so make it easy-to-understand, brief and enjoyable.

Get to the room early to make sure it’s ready and any technology requirements like projectors and video/voice conferencing are present and working properly. Also make sure that any stationery items that may be needed are present and that there’s enough for each attendant. It’s a good idea to have spare copies of the agenda to hand because I can pretty much guarantee that somebody will forget their copy.

A good tip is to use a whiteboard or flip-chart with the key points that need to be covered and/or the desired outcome. Make sure that everyone in the room can see these bullet points to maintain their focus on the task at hand.

After everyone has settled into their seats you’ll need somebody to take the minutes so just ask for a volunteer to do this – there will usually be somebody in the room quite willing to do this. If, however, that doesn’t happen you may need to politely ask somebody you know to perform this task. The minutes are documented proof of what did or didn’t happen during the meeting itself so they are very important.

Make sure that each person is encouraged to participate but without putting any pressure on them. You’ll also monitor the meeting and do your best to ensure that people aren’t talking over each other – the minutes will just be a jumble otherwise. You can allow tangents in the discussion but be mindful of making sure that you bring people back to the topic you’re discussing and keep things on course.

And last but not least thank all the participants for attending, their contributions and welcome feedback from all who attended. You can accomplish anonymous feedback by using a survey service if you wish.

As your experience with facilitating meetings improves make sure to pay it forward by mentoring other people on your team or within your department on the same skills somebody helped you develop. Sharing your skills freely in this way shows management development potential so if you’re interested in improving your career prospects then mentoring is always seen as a key leadership skill.

Dr. Dan Neundorf is the President and Lead Trainer at Impact Training and Development Inc.

Dr. Dan Neundorf is the Director and Lead Trainer at Impact Training and Development Inc. With over 25 years of experience as a leadership coach, training director, facilitator and University Professor, Dan has crafted and led hundreds of training and development events across Ontario.

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