How a Professional Meeting Facilitator Makes Meetings More Effective
Every time a meeting happens, an investment (frequently substantial) is being made by the organization.
One way to immediately improve the return on that investment is to use a professional meeting facilitator. The role of a professional meeting facilitator is to ensure high quality, clear outcomes based on the time and people involved.
How a professional meeting facilitator makes meetings more effective
Takes out the ego. A good facilitator is both objective and critical. This enables them to ask serious questions, ensure rigour and get to the truth – not just bend to the forces of individual will, charisma and/or overbearing that frequently drive the results of internal discussions.
Engages the full group. Every group has its’ passive and dominant personalities. Given that there is no guaranteed link between those that are always speaking and the quality of their input, it’s important to hear from the passive participants also. A good meeting facilitator is conscious of the entire group and skilled at engaging everyone in the process.
Provides leaders with the opportunity to participate, not just facilitate. It’s not easy for leaders to both facilitate and provide input. Effective facilitation requires skill and objectivity. A leader is apt to lack at both, thereby doing double harm: not getting enough recognition for their own input and/while not taking full advantage of the group.
Sorts and resolves complicated issues in an efficient manner. There are a range of techniques anyone can use to sort through complex issues. From brainstorming to prioritizing, a good facilitator applies these techniques seamlessly and thoughtfully to drive towards outputs and solutions.
Sticks to the time frame allocated. The problem with too many meetings is the time they take. Armed with an effective process and a clear timeline, a good meeting facilitator is responsible for achieving the goals of the meeting within the timeframe allocated. Frequently, it much easier for an outside meeting facilitator to break through bad meeting habits (start late, end late) than it is for an organization to change.
Delivers clear outputs, directions and next steps. Too many meeting end in a confusing state where the outputs are not clear. Defining clear outputs is a key priority of a good meeting facilitator. This includes summarizing the discussion, verifying agreements that have been made and formalizing next steps.
A strong meeting facilitator can significantly and immediately increase the return many organizations are receiving from their investment in meetings. The combination of objectivity, skill and process is an important tool set for increasing meeting effectiveness.
Jim Crocker is the founder and current Chair of Boardroom Metrics. He is an experienced Director, CEO and Consultant to public, private and not-for-profit organizations. Jim coaches Boards, CEO’s and Leadership teams on strategic planning and governance effectiveness.