Think back to the worst meeting you ever attended. Whether it was 30 minutes or an entire week, the agony and waste of a poorly designed, badly managed and unfocused meeting seems endless. Sadly, the descriptors for those meetings are very common- poor time management, lack of clarity on the purpose of the meeting, fights for the floor, uneven participation, and perhaps most pernicious, “We all knew that the boss had already decided- so it was a waste of time.”
Skilled meeting facilitation consists of:
- Articulating a clear and powerful charter for the meeting.
- Defining clear and actionable outcomes.
- Designing an event consistent with the desired outcomes.
- Creating an environment in the room to be certain that all voices are heard and that discussions are focused, rich and deep.
- Ensuring that decisions made are clear and that concerns, conditions and future steps are all fully documented.
Why spend time and money for professional facilitation?
Bad decisions are made every day because of poor planning, lack of consensus, and failure to execute – all implications of poor collaboration and lack of clear process. Professional facilitation helps you avoid this by engaging groups to reach decisions together and commit to action.
How much time do you waste in meetings that fail to meet the desired goals? You spend valuable time and money when your group convenes for a meeting or activity. Partnering with a professional facilitator to design and lead your session helps ensure that your group is interactive, engaged, and committed to action. Today, billions of dollars are spent every year in meetings that are poorly run. Make your meeting well worth every minute and every dollar!
Meetings that are frank, open and designed to take in all points of view before decisions are taken have more lasting outcomes. While few groups can reach true consensus, the struggle for consensus and the disclosure in a group decision process create more durable decisions.
My Facilitation Services Process
- Clearly define the charter of the project, program or process that the meeting fits within. Understanding this context is critical to understanding the desired mindset of participants and what kinds of communications and preparation will be needed to ensure they arrive mentally and emotionally prepared for the work.
- Clearly define the outcomes for the event. Whether the meeting is a short brainstorming session or a multi-day discussion of enterprise strategy, no agenda should ever be put in place without a clear and compelling set of outcomes defined. Missing this step is the single most common error I see in poorly planned meetings.
- Define processes and an agenda that will take participants from the mindset and current state at the beginning of the meeting through to the desired outcomes set forth in step 2. Aside from the practicalities of room and time management, this step ensures understanding the conversations and time needed to move toward the desired outcomes at a pace that is both sustainable and durable.
- Stress test the meeting design for time and space needs and validate that the venue and the people invited are appropriate to the outcomes desired and the decisions that need to be made.
- Design prework (reading, research, or other preparation) needed to be certain that the outcomes will be achievable at the meeting.
- Logistics prep, room management, time and space planning and communications design in advance of the meeting.
- Actual facilitation of the event.
- Debrief and review after the event with the event sponsor. Support for client’s administrative staff in transcription and preservation of meeting notes/ charts and other resource materials developed or used during the meeting.
Facilitation services, as described here, are generally used in support of working meetings for major projects or collaborative initiatives. For Leadership Development and Executive Retreats, visit the Leadership Development page.