Successfully Facilitating a Meeting
So, you’ve been tasked with facilitating a meeting. Everyone knows that time is precious so it's important that the meeting runs smoothly, relevant messages are delivered successfully and the goals of the meeting are achieved. Good facilitation can make a meeting more useful, enjoyable and successful in the long-run. No-one wants to walk away from a meeting thinking “What a waste of time that was!” so with this in mind, here are some simple but effective points to help in achieving a successful meeting.
Where to start?
An obvious point to make, but having a structure will help to direct conversation with the intention of reaching a decision, having action points or a conclusion to what you have to discuss. This could even be “timed” to ensure that you don’t over-run on some points and leave others not fully covered? Having a summary of points you will cover at the start of the meeting will also help the attendees to keep focussed on each area. An email prior to the meeting with an overview of the intention of the meeting can also help people get in the right frame of mind and give time for thoughts and ideas to form before the meeting.
Where possible, try to avoid including Any Other Business on the agenda. If something is worth discussing and is relevant to the meeting, then surely it should be worthy of its own agenda item. From a facilitator’s perspective, it also means that last minute curve balls can be avoided which could potentially undermine an effective meeting.
Time and Location
There is nothing worse than rumbling tummies and flailing attention spans when meetings are arranged near to lunchtime. Often choosing a time in the morning, when people are fresh in for the day, or after lunch when everyone has had a chance to recharge their batteries ready for the afternoon are the best times go for. Also, making sure that the location is appropriate for the needs of your meeting is important. A hot, stuffy and cramped room will not help in the flow of thought for your attendees.
Managing the group and keeping control
It’s often so easy for conversations to go off on a tangent, especially when many people are involved. It is often the same people who speak the most, and the quieter ones can be left on the sidelines. Attempting to bring everyone into the conversation, and listening to the opinions of everyone, including the quieter team members can often lead to an idea that is interesting and workable, that might not have been contributed by anyone else. Using post it notes to record ideas or breaking larger groups into smaller teams to discuss a particular topic are great ways for ensuring everyone feels comfortable contributing.
Obviously there are other factors that might be considered and implemented depending of the size of your meeting, whether it is in-house or you have other people joining you from different companies.
Stick to the 3 P’s
Purpose (Type of meeting, to cover what?)
People (Who needs to be involved) and
Process (What is the agenda/timescale/objectives?)
This can help you achieve a successful meeting that will result in you achieving the objectives that you have set out for yourself, your team and your company.