Updated: Dec 31, 2018
If you have participated in meetings that were competently facilitated, you already know their value. If not, I urge you to consider using one. A meeting facilitator helps keep the meeting on target for both time and content. I recommend using a facilitator for meetings consisting of 8 or more participants. 📷 I was fortunate to have Jim Kling as a business partner. Jim was an extremely skilled facilitator. Before attacking the agenda, he asked each participant to tell the group what was on his/her mind and what he/she wanted to accomplish. This helped the team members adapt physically and psychologically to the task at hand. This is like having sorbet to cleanse the palate before serving the next course.
Jim adapted his approach to the needs of each team and meeting. He reviewed the agenda and desired outcomes. He ensured that the leader and members followed the agreed upon agenda and meeting process. His questioning skills were impeccable. Notice his posture, in the picture obove, as he carefully listens (his eyes focused on the spreker, learning forward in an open position, head tilted toward the speaker, hands folded). He was able to draw essential information from each participant. Meetings started on time and ended when the desired outcomes were achieved - most of the time before the planned stop time.
Facilitation includes five fundamentals: interact, observe, interpret, expand, and review. Here is how to take advantage of these basics:
Interact: Listen to each team member thoughtfully and encourage his/her with eye contact and/or non-verbal responses. Pay attention to the people, situations, and events presented.
Observe: Actively listen to the actual words including timing, accent, volume, and pitch being said. Observe body language: facial expression, use of gestures, body position, and movement. Evaluate what you hear and see, but suspend judgement. Make brief notes.
Interpret: Empathetically summarize what the speaker said. Ask questions to clarify points.
Expand: Simplify or analyze information. Encourage others to express their views. Apply new knowledge to situations.
Review: Revisit ideas and confirm they were understood accurately. Ensure leader summarizes actions to be taken and by whom.
A skilled facilitator supports the leader to stay on target and helps the team become more effective and efficient.