The following article "Seven Killer Rules for Effective Meeting Facilitation" represents the most visited page on my web site and blog.
We've all been in meetings that are engaging and we've all been in meetings that were a dreadful waste of time. Most of the time the success of a meeting depends on the meeting facilitator. So if you are facilitating a meeting, be sure to do the behind the scenes work ahead of time so that the meeting will produce the outcome that you want.
Good facilitation of a meeting involves three key components:
Analysis- Sometimes meeting facilitators jump to create a debate over issues of content before an appropriate process is in place. Example: A group may be discussing whether or not to fundraise for a specific purpose when they have not yet decided if it is good time to fundraise at all. It is also good to identify if someone involved in the meeting has a specific intent or personal interest in a specific outcome and define that upfront.
Communication- The facilitator must listen, summarize and re-frame. Typically they do not advance an opinion but ask questions to stimulate new ideas. The facilitator posts ideas on a flip chart or post board so that nothing is lost and so that later ideas may be voted on, prioritized or put in appropriate categories. If the topic is getting off track or moving in a negative or unproductive direction, it is the facilitator's job to redirect the focus back to the purpose of the meeting.
Familiarity with Process Models- Meetings whereby the process is to vote on an issue before moving forward are becoming less popular. Today many meetings operate with the consensus process whereby nothing can move forward unless everyone is in agreement that they can support the issue. This gives everyone less angst about the issue moving forward without appropriate consensus from everyone. Underlying attitudes of cooperation, support, trust, respect, and good communication are essential for a productive meeting and for consensus building.
In order for any project to succeed it must be set up to do so from the start. This concept applies to meetings as well. Ground rules should be shared with a group ahead of time so that everyone understands the culture of the meeting before you move into the purpose of the meeting, agenda and desired outcomes. Typical meeting ground rules revolve around start and end times, no interruptions such as cell phones or email etc. I say establish those as "Logistical Standards." Additionally, I encourage clients to establish "Killer Ground Rules" such as the ones listed in the link below so as to encourage a safe environment of high energy, idea creation, openness and forward thinking. The reason I call them "Killer" ground rules is because these rules "kill" the negative stereotypical images associated with typical meetings.
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Mary Lee is a featured executive coach, offering career advice in MONEY MAGAZINE.
Mary Lee Gannon is the president of StartingOverNow.com - Transforming People and Organizations with Goals-to-Results. With more than 16 years of experience as a CEO of organizations with up to $26 million in assets, Mary Lee coaches executives and organizations with a Goals-Accountability-Results system. Read testimonials from her clients. She is a graduate of The Duquesne University Professional Coaching Program and an alumnus of the 2010 Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital Coaching in Medicine & Leadership Conference. Her personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother with four children under seven-years-old who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where she rose to the level of CEO to support her family. Areas of Specialty: Strategic Planning / Board Development / Executive Coaching / Healthcare / Public Relations / Meeting Facilitation / Leadership / Productivity / Life/Career Transition. Her book "Starting Over - 25 Rules for When You've Bottomed Out" is available in bookstores and from online booksellers.