Facilitating group meetings

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Facilitating group meetings

coursedetailsFacilitating meetings is an approach, not a process. Your team’s preferences will determine the steps you should take. To help your team make the most of their time together, here are some steps you can take to start as a facilitator.

1. Your role as a facilitator

It is nearly impossible to be both a facilitator and a participant in a meeting. Accept the facilitator’s role in managing time, encouraging participation and asking questions. The group’s other members should be the stars.

2. Create an interactive agenda

It’s best to distribute a meeting agenda to everyone before the meeting. This will allow them to be prepared. Your agenda should be structured so that different people can lead portions of the discussion. This allows you to get into the background and observe the group so that you can focus on steering the group towards a decision or outcome.

3. Establish your meeting’s purpose

Each meeting that you facilitate must have a clear goal: a goal to reach, or a decision to be made. This will ensure that participants understand why they are there and, most importantly, what it will take to complete the meeting on time.

It is worth repeating the goal at the beginning of each meeting. You could even write it on a whiteboard as a guideline for the discussion, especially if there are likely to be detractors. You can remind the group of the purpose of the meeting if the discussion goes off-track or becomes a rabbit hole.

4. Shut your computer and turn on your ears

People will be more involved in conversations if they aren’t checking their email or Facebook. Take a firm approach and request that all phones, tablets, laptops and computers be turned off. Only the meeting’s secretary gets to keep their device on hand for recording minutes. Do not start the meeting until everyone has tuned in and is ready to contribute.

5. Allow everyone to contribute

There may be a “celebrity”, a person with strong opinions and a strong personality who is respected by others in the group. They can either dominate the discussion, sometimes without intending to, or disrupt it by pushing their agenda.

You’ll be grateful that you communicated the purpose and agenda in advance with them and got their input before the meeting. Let them know that you are there to help and they will be able to contribute constructively.

6. Manage participation

Participants’ communication styles and verbal contributions may differ. Small group work can help to bring out the quieter members. After the initial discussion has ended, ask a safe question or establish their opinion.

You might also consider assigning different roles to high-frequency contributors, such as time keeper, minute taker, and flip-chart writer. You should ensure that group work includes participants who have different communication styles.

7. Your facilitation style should be adjusted

Facilitation styles should be adapted to the group’s needs at various stages of development. A directive style of facilitation is good at the start of a meeting. Participants prefer to be led and guided by someone who is able to take control of the meeting, especially in new groups.

8. Offer a range of group working methods

This allows for group engagement and supports different learning styles. This helps the group get the most out of the meeting.

9. Recognize and reinforce supportive behavior and responses

Recognising each other’s ideas, suggestions and comments helps to build upon them. It is important to confront any negative or repetitive statements and behaviors that are made during meetings.

10. Evaluate the group’s achievements

You can use group or individual feedback to assess success and then review the actions taken. An initial evaluation at the meeting is helpful, and then a review of how progress has been made after a set period of time.

Facilitators must be able to direct all their efforts and dedication to the group in order to facilitate effectively. Facilitators must also help the group in the most effective and relevant manner. This might include challenging the group’s thinking or asking supportive questions to clarify what is being said.

How do you benefit from facilitating meetings?

We can use the same tools and techniques for meetings to keep them on track, ensure everyone gets a chance to speak and to clarify how decisions will be made. It is through your meetings that we decide collectively what actions you will take in order to achieve your mission. Your group or organisation culture is often reflected in the character of your meetings.

These are key ideas for meeting facilitation.

To ensure that our meetings are efficient, you can assign different roles to people. The meeting facilitator is responsible for managing the meeting and the recorder takes notes. This allows the participants to concentrate on the content.  Another important idea is to plan before and after the meeting.

What is the role of a facilitator in a meeting?

Facilitators are responsible for leading participants to the desired outcomes, following the agenda. A good meeting design is the first step to a successful meeting. However, facilitators can use many techniques to help keep the meeting moving and to manage difficult situations.

Facilitators need to first explain the agenda, including any tools or special tools that they might be using for group brainstorming. Facilitators will ensure that ideas and proposals are kept on track. They remind people about the time and alert them when they get off-track.

Sometimes, the facilitator of meetings is often the leader of the project or team. They may not consider themselves to be the facilitator but they need to pay attention to both the content and the process of the meeting. Facilitative actions can be taken by any participant in a meeting. They may ask a question, make suggestions or draw out an idea.

Last Thoughts

Facilitating groups is a valuable management skill that can help teams achieve their goals in a constructive and effective manner. Facilitators are responsible for helping the group to make progress and find the best solution.

The most effective facilitators are those who establish trust and build trust with their group through honesty and transparency in communication. They don’t always have the right answer, but they believe that the solution lies within the group. They use group working methods to find the answers and solutions.

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