Our top tips on how to successfully facilitate a meeting or session; what to do, how to prepare and from our own personal experience, what not to do!
- Plan well. The success of this meeting/session is down to you so you need to plan and prepare carefully and fully. Consider the agenda, know the attendee’s profiles/jobs, check the location is appropriate for the meeting you will be having etc.
- If issues need reflection or are likely to be contentious, ask participants to submit their initial thoughts before the day.
- Introduce participants and be clear on who is attending and what their expertise/role is.
- Very frequently, sum up where discussions or learning is at. Check that everyone agrees with your summary before moving on – and don’t rush this process, check properly that everyone is on board and in agreement.
- Send out a written summary immediately after the meeting so nothing is forgotten.
- Forget to set the necessary ground rules for participation re. phones, respect, contributing, confidentiality etc.
- Hesitate to ask people to step back if they are dominating the discussion. And don’t hesitate to seek group agreement to asking people to leave if their presence is no longer helpful e.g. if they are being rude or dismissive.
- Forget that you are facilitating and are not there to lead the session or contribute in the same way that others are contributing. If you are a natural ‘talker’, tell yourself that today is a day for listening, not talking!
- Forget that setting up IT, especially if you are facilitating a virtual meeting, always takes longer than expected! Allow plenty of time and have a back up plan or equipment if necessary.
- Launch straight in without first taking time to introduce yourself and explain your role. Not everyone will be familiar with the role of a facilitator.
10.5 Do be strict with time, set out at the start how long you have got and what needs to be the outcome from the meeting. Don’t be the facilitator known for allowing rambling discussions that result in fluffy outcomes and no real commitment from anyone.