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Shine Substance Staples: Become a meeting facilitator; not a meeting manager.

Now that we've tackled the techniques of effective meetings, let's talk about how you can elevate your capabilities by focusing less on running a meeting and being a great facilitator.

It's a simple formula...

Effective meetings = Highly effective meeting management techniques + great facilitation skill

...but complex to execute.

When you couple highly effective meeting management techniques (like the ones we discussed in our last blog) with great facilitation skill, you will be a meeting powerhouse and surely demonstrate a strong and effective professional image at work. So let's talk about those great facilitation skills that you can take action steps to grow:

1) Understand your role. First and foremost - understand your role. As meeting facilitator you play a neutral role. You are not invested in one outcome over another. Rather, you're invested in getting to getting to an outcome, period.

2) Prepare your stakeholders. Step two is knowing who your stakeholders are (who are likely meeting participants) by prepping them in advance. This includes being clear about those meeting objectives and the things you would anticipate them being prepared with when they come. Consider yourself the coach of the team that is coaching the team on how to play the game... the game being the meeting itself.

3) Communication and listening is everything. Now you're in the meeting and this is where the "rubber meets the road" when it comes to image. What you say and how you say it, is everything in terms of effective meetings. You can do all the techniques and skills, but if communication is lacking, it won't matter. Remember these three things:

  • Start every meeting with a statement of excitement centered around the objective. This sets the tone and mood of the meeting. This goes beyond just the words you say, but how you say them - you must truly be excited/invested in reaching an outcome.

  • Create meeting engagement by providing opportunities for the collective to participate and make decisions. Invite others to weigh in. Be mindful of queues you're seeing from attendees that signal a need to clarify or redirect conversations.

  • Listen and summarize. A key role as a neutral party requires you to be the best damn listener in the meeting! Hear what everyone is saying and summarize that in a way that drives action. We've all been in meetings where it appears everyone is "swirling". Your job as the facilitator is to listen to all the voices and summarize what the team is saying to drive action forward. This skill is most critical because this is often where meetings "fail". It is highly dependent on your ability to listen. Most facilitation falters because the facilitator speaks more than they listen.

To be a great facilitator you have to align first to the meaning of the facilitator role. From there, it requires a lot of leg work to get meeting participants on the same page of what the goal is of the meeting and what you expect of them, in advance. You then are on a stage as you tactically facilitate through great listening and highly effective communication skills.

What skills have you seen demonstrated by great meeting facilitators? Would love to hear your thoughts below in comments.

Shine On, Laura


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