You may be asking yourself “what is a meeting facilitator”? A meeting facilitator has the critical role of bringing structure to meetings to keep conversations productive and on track, and keeping energy levels high among all the participants. A successful facilitator can drastically change the whole meeting experience to make it an enjoyable event that team members look forward to.
Every meeting and workshop has different goals and objectives. Whether you are trying to solve critical problems, or reach consensus on a project plan, the quality of your meeting outcomes can be directly linked to how well you engage participants throughout the meeting. High engagement ensures that every person has the opportunity to share their unique perspective and expertise, gaining well-rounded insight on any topic.
Because it is so highly linked to the overall experience of the meeting, enhancing engagement is one of the best ways to have effective and enjoyable meetings where participants feel heard. Here are our top 15 facilitative techniques to use in your next meeting:
Establish grounds for the meeting: why we’re here, what we’ll be doing, when and how. These guidelines give people a purpose and direction which can result in greater focus.
Round-robins give everybody the chance to share their insights on an issue and contribute something to the conversation. It is a great way to increase problem-solving and ensure everybody stays tuned in. Check out our blog on running engaging zoom calls that incorporate round robins and other activities if you’re running more online meetings.
Subgroups can be made by breaking the larger group into pairs, triads, quads or table groups. This technique can be a great option when you ask a question, but little to no response is being given.
Create subgroups based on level of interest, topic expertise, relevance to job, intact or cross-functional team members, same or mixed status level, etc. To really kick up engagement you can also try:
To learn more about using subgroups for engagement check out our blog post on the power of subgrouping.
The Ping-Pong technique can help to embellish existing ideas, improve active listening, and sum up complex ideas. For example:
After someone speaks, ask: Jim what would you add? (embellishing); or Jim what did you hear Shona say? (active listening); or after having two people embellish ask the third person: So what are you hearing other people say? (summing up ideas)
Rona, what would you like to add? Some participants like advance notice that they will be called upon, so you could say, Priyanka and Sam, we haven’t heard your perspectives yet so when Rona, finishes, I’ll come to you.
People often have lots of feedback on their experience, what they liked and what they hated. Checking in with meeting participants is a great way to find out what works for this group of people. Everybody has different needs, so it is important to see what resonates with each unique group.
Parking lots ensure off-topic remarks get parked and don’t stifle the flow of conversation. The key with parking lots is to make sure these comments are dealt with at the end of the workshop. Long, unattended parking lots create frustration!
By using a visible countdown timer, you will be able to create a sense of urgency and keep everyone on time and on track! Check out our blog post on best practices for conducting a timely meeting.
For inspiration on incorporating creative brainstorming methods into your meeting check out our blog post on energizing brainstorming ideas.
This can work for flipcharts, poster boards, or virtual whiteboards! By acknowledging the effort participants put into their responses it validates them and encourages further participation.
Establishing norms is part of any successful meeting. By establishing standards such as “Everyone is expected to contribute at least one idea per topic”, lets participants know that it is an environment where their contribution is welcomed and can prepare for it as they listen.
In meetings where there are mixed status levels it is important to assure participants that everyone’s status level and individual opinions will be considered equal for the purposes of the conversation.
Do you have a unique meeting challenge not covered by one of our blog posts? We’re always looking for different dilemmas to discuss in our articles!