Whether in-person or online, meetings need facilitation. Without a leader, there’s no one moderating the conversation and ensuring participation. And when the meeting doesn’t reach its goals due to miscommunication, distraction, and lack of guidance, participants leave frustrated – discouraged to ever attend another meeting. Unproductive meetings become the topic of ridicule, with employees joking that the one who called the meeting should have sent an email instead. While there’s humor behind those jabs, the reality is that employees have already begun to lose faith in their leadership, questioning their ability to get results.
The most successful organizations champion facilitation because they also value time and money. And unproductive meetings waste both. If you are a meeting facilitator, you need three essential skills that ensure your group follows the meeting agenda and achieves its goals.
1. Speak and Question Clearly
Whether you assign meeting roles, encourage participation, close a topic to move on to the next, or lead decisions, commit to speaking with clarity. Remove implicit discriminatory and prejudiced language. Speak with confidence without being scary. Remember, you set the tone for the meeting environment. Start positive by conducting a quick check-in. Check-ins mentally prepare attendees for the conversation. So by the time you review the agenda items and desired outcomes, you have people’s attention.
2. Active Listening and Observation
Listen with intent. Maintain eye contact to show whoever is speaking that you’re listening attentively. Absorb what they are saying along with their body language. Rather than evaluate and judge what the speaker has said, paraphrase or summarize what’s been said to the group to ensure points are understood.
Also, recognize the signs when someone wants to speak up but shows hesitation. Strive to keep the atmosphere inclusive, particularly when participation by everyone involved is necessary to get results. Be mindful if someone appears to be dominating the conversation by talking over others. By actively listening and observing, you’ll know when to step in and guide the discussion in the right direction.
Being mindful of the ongoing discussion also helps you keep track of the agenda and time. Some conversations may open opportunities for future meetings. Rather than dive deep into a new topic, park that discussion for another session and include it in the next plan.
3. Remain Neutral
You’ll likely have your own opinions about the topic and want to share your ideas. However, meeting facilitators can’t be biased and steer the conversation in a direction that favors them. As a facilitator, your role is to maintain neutrality while guiding the meeting attendees through the agenda.
Conversations in meetings can go in different directions and may even result in conflict. When this happens, you need to get back on track without taking sides. You may even need to ask the group to pause and internalize what’s been said before moving on. Taking a moment to reflect also gives you the opportunity to reorganize and align.
If you are interested in pursuing a conversation or need more information on the topic above, please let me know. There is never any cost for a discovery call which you can schedule right here: https://calendly.com/inscapegreg/30min
I look forward to chatting with you.