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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