It is impossible to be part of an organization and not attend meetings. Many meetings are poorly run and waste people’s valuable, limited time. A facilitator is someone who provides methods and tools that help team members to use their time efficiently in meetings. While team members focus on content and getting to the right answer, facilitators focus on how to reach a decision or solution. Some of their roles include:
Control the pace of the meeting
Create an environment where everyone participates
Guide the discussion and keep the group on track
Manage conflict using a collaborative approach
Help the team reach consensus
Periodically summarize ideas
Capture notes and action items and display them visually
If you are going to facilitate a meeting, keep in mind that your job is to make it easier for the group to accomplish their goal. Work with the project leader or person calling the meeting to develop an agenda ahead of time. As you develop the agenda, decide which tools you will use during the meeting to maximize productivity. Team members should receive the agenda ahead of time so that they are ready to contribute during the meeting.
Come to the meeting prepared with a general idea of where the discussions will go. Have at least one back-up plan in case your plan is not working or the meeting is going in a different direction than you anticipated. Flexibility is key, and having options ready will help you make changes to meet the group’s needs.
Remember that facilitators act more like referees than players. They watch the actions, interactions, and reactions of the group and intervene as needed. Facilitators control the pace and which activities happen when. They keep their finger on the pulse and know when to move on or bring closure. Most important, facilitators help teams to define and achieve their goals.