Meetings can be useful forums for sharing information, gathering feedback, brainstorming, collaborating, and much more—but they can often go astray. Using trained facilitators, however, can help organizations keep their meetings focused, constructive, and engaging.
Since 1990, BCS has provided facilitation services—including pre-workshop planning, logistics and meeting support, onsite facilitation, and post-event report writing—for clients in both the private and public sectors. Our team of nine trained facilitators customizes their facilitation approach to fit each individual client and meeting. By focusing on results, we help clients define clear goals and develop forward-looking strategies to help them achieve their objectives.
Roy Tiley, one of BCS’ lead facilitators, shares his tips for successful meeting facilitation:
1. Clearly identify the meeting sponsor and understand and agree on the meeting’s purpose and outputs.
When leading a meeting, get to know the organization. Interview the meeting sponsor, so you’ll have a better grasp of what they want to achieve. Agreeing to the meeting’s purpose, outcomes, and deliverables will enable you to guide the meeting more effectively.
2. Create an effective meeting agenda that includes a series of questions for participants. The questions will help get people thinking about how to achieve the meeting’s outcomes.
Begin with your desired output for the meeting and develop a series of logical questions that build on each other to reach that outcome. Incorporate these questions into the meeting agenda to help move the discussion along in a direction that will reach the desired outputs.
3. Prepare for the meeting by sending out the necessary background information and the agenda prior to the meeting.
Provide participants with any relevant materials well in advance of the meeting. If participants know the topics being covered and the desired outcome ahead of time, they can enter the meeting better prepared to participate with comments and ideas.
4. Ensure that the participants who are necessary to achieve the meeting objectives will be attending.
Often in meetings, there are key people needed to bring a certain knowledge base, represent leadership, or make decisions. If the meeting’s success depends on any necessary participants, be sure that all key people will definitely be present. Otherwise, the meeting discussions may be inadequate and might not yield the desired outcome.
5. Remain neutral during the meeting and keep the meeting at the proper level of detail.
Maintain neutrality to keep the meeting fair and to ensure that all sides feel comfortable in voicing their opinions, comments, and ideas. Being a neutral force can also help keep the meeting on track without delving too far into any one topic.
6. Utilize organizational tools such as ground rules, parking lots, and action boards to keep the meeting on track.
Use different organizational tools to help keep the meeting focused and on task. Ground rules can help keep order and establish what is or is not appropriate conduct during the meeting. Parking lots are a useful feature for keeping track of topics that come up that are not currently on the agenda. Rather than allowing those topics to pull the discussion off course, the facilitator can keep them on hand to return to after the group finishes discussing the main topics. Action boards keep track of items needing to be put into motion or steps to take as a result of the meeting.
Contact us to learn more about BCS’ facilitation services.