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Element #7: Facilitate the meeting well

You can have a clear purpose, the right people, an ideal platform, a succinct agenda and all the logistics lined up perfectly and yet still struggle with hosting an effective meeting if you do not have an effective facilitator for the meeting. You have to facilitate the meeting well in order to engage your participants and achieve the meeting purpose and outcomes. While it may seem easy, facilitating effective meetings requires engagement skills, an understanding of the purpose and plan for the meeting and willingness to be intentional. Join me this week as I explore three questions to consider when deciding the facilitation plan for your next meeting.

Who is the best person to facilitate this meeting?

Who is the best person to facilitate this meeting? Consider the person(s) who can provide the best engagement and energy that leads you to the outcome you would like for your meeting.  I recently had the opportunity to participate in a Strengths Finder assessment and it provided excellent clarity on our individual and collective strengths. One of the key ideas behind this concept is that you focus on enhancing your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses. If you have someone with skills, interest and experience in facilitating effective meetings, this is probably the person you want to facilitate your meetings. Even if this person is not the primary staff person or leader of the group, you will have more effective meetings when you engage the right person in facilitating those meetings. Depending upon the topic or meeting, you may need someone who has expertise in a topic and has facilitation skills and strengths. In other meetings, you may need someone who has the facilitation skills but not necessarily the expertise in the topic. Discuss and assess the best person(s) to facilitate each of your committees, workgroups or councils.

What does the facilitator need to know to prepare for the meeting?

Since you have already spent time considering your meeting purpose, attendees, format, agenda and logistics, you have important information to share with the facilitator. Sometimes the meeting facilitator has been part of this planning process, and other times, the facilitator needs to be prepped with this information. As you plan your meeting, consider how you want to set expectations, engage the participants (e.g. chat or polls), how many people will be attending, whether you will have breakout rooms with additional facilitators and the questions or prompts needed to support meeting engagement.

Which topics may be complicated or controversial?

As you plan your next meeting, consider which topics on the agenda may be more difficult to facilitate based on past experience or feedback from your groups. While it is important to address complicated or controversial issues, you need to be ready to facilitate this conversation thoughtfully and diplomatically.  As you prepare the facilitator, provide context and potential challenges to consider. If you have a plan for how you will address these topics prior to the meeting, your facilitator and meeting participants will be more comfortable when the conversation becomes uncomfortable.

So what about you? How do you need to prepare for facilitating your upcoming meetings?

If you would like to learn more skills and engage with others who are also on a coalition, partnership or team building journey, consider joining my wait list for Coalition Catalyst Spring 2022.

For a list of facilitation skills to consider, check out my latest resource on conducting effective coalition meetings, Effective Meeting Checklist!

Photo by Natasha Hall on Unsplash

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