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Tips for Facilitating Groups or Meetings

Prepared by Vicki Stasch, Management Consultant

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Facilitator/Leader’s Role

  • Establish and adhere to a time line
  • Be a neutral person for the group
  • Listen and clarify issues within the group
  • Listen twice as much as you talk-your role is to engage and direct the people not to tell or talk
  • Solicit input from everyone
  • Discourage domineering or judgmental behavior
  • Keep the discussion flowing and on focus
  • Offer your input at the end/at the beginning only if the group is struggling

Monitor Role

  • Helps facilitator by reminding of time lines
  • Signals the group when ground rules are violated-ground rules are posted
  • Reminding the facilitator when everyone has not had input
  • Is a second set of eyes and ears to insure the meeting flows well

Tips for Facilitating

  • Arrive early to set up room and materials, post the agenda and to greet people.
  • Always have writing boards/markers. A lap top computer helps.
  • Start session on time with introductions, purpose of session, agenda review and clarifying your role.
  • Set or review ground rules or code of conduct with the group plus the mechanism to monitor
  • To start a discussion, write a question(s) on a board and ask the group in pairs to respond.
  • Use small group discussions (3-7 people) to get everyone participating.
  • Use structured Brainstorming to gather a lot of information quickly: go around room asking for each person’s brief ideas which are recorded
  • Use consensus building to get everyone’s agreement on a decision, outcome. Consensus is “we can live with this”, not necessarily “we all agree”
  • Have group members write prior to verbal discussion: post-it notes, 3x5 cards, on posted paper pads.
  • Use video tape(s) as a tool to get group focused
  • To manage the long-winded or domineering members, refer to ground rules or ask them to summarize in ten words or less.
  • To involve the silent members, use small groups or pairings.
  • To get everyone’s input, pose the question then move “round robin” around the room asking for each person’s input in 20 words (or 1 minute each).

Meeting Follow up

  • Keep notes of the actions and agreements with dates assigned
  • Address unresolved issues and agendize for next meeting
  • Summarize or offer meeting closure
  • Ask participants about what worked and did not
  • Insure notes or minutes are distributed

Leadership Quote

If you want the full support of people, you must get them into the act, the sooner the better. Everyone must help paddle the canoe.