Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck
Meetings are one of the fastest ways to waste time in the workplace. Between late arrivals, off-topic tangents, and lack of structure, it’s common to have hour-long sessions where hardly anything gets done. Worse still are the meetings that could have easily been a video call or email.
What makes for effective meeting facilitation?
There are many tips for effective meetings, but a great facilitator is critical to a productive discussion.
Let’s talk about where meetings often go wrong. Meetings that lack a strong facilitator tend to ramble on for much longer than necessary. How often have you been in a meeting where no clear facilitator or the person in that role was disengaged, uninformed, or just plain dull?
Effective meeting facilitation requires you to look honestly at your company meetings to see where you can improve your meeting facilitation skills. Sometimes the reason your meetings aren’t productive enough is you.
What is a meeting facilitator’s role?
A meeting facilitator is responsible for keeping the meeting on track and moderating discussions. Usually, the facilitator is the one who calls for the meeting. This person should provide an agenda and ensure the dialogue doesn’t veer off-course.
A decisive meeting facilitator can command attention and move the agenda without lingering extensively on any topic. Facilitators must be good speakers and listeners, understand the goal of the meeting, and have the energy to remain engaged and enthusiastic for the session.
How do you effectively facilitate a meeting?
Effective meeting facilitation takes practice, but you can hone your meeting facilitation skills over time. A few small changes can make a world of difference. Here are a few proven ways to improve your business meeting facilitation.
- Effective meeting management begins with a brutal look in the mirror. Where are your leadership skills lacking? Next, focus on developing your listening and speaking skills to ensure you hear everyone and communicate clearly. Chances are, a great meeting facilitator is also a great leader.
- Sometimes meetings benefit from a bit of homework. It’s a good idea to ask your employees to research topics beforehand so everyone is on the same page when it comes time for the meeting. Then, instead of rehashing basic concepts, you can use your meeting time to jump right into the critical issues.
- Always have an agenda for your meetings to keep everyone on track—and most importantly, don’t get too ambitious. Recognize that running through agenda items in person takes longer than in your head. It’s your responsibility as a facilitator to keep the meeting moving.
- Facilitating a meeting doesn’t mean you should talk the whole time. On the contrary: you’ll bore your coworkers, and productivity will wane. Instead, assign talking points to specific team members beforehand to allow everyone a chance to prepare. As a result, you’ll have a more engaged audience, and everyone will have the opportunity to contribute.
- On a similar note, make sure that participation is balanced. Not all coworkers feel comfortable speaking up in spontaneous discussions. Pay attention to who contributes to your meetings and call for other participants if the same few people dominate the conversation. Look for cues that someone has been waiting for the chance to speak.
- Be aware of remote attendees. Many companies are seeing a rise in hybrid office schedules where some employees work from home. It’s easy to forget about these employees when they’re not visibly in the room with you. Pause periodically to check in with remote participants to see if they have anything to add. If you scheduled a video call, insist all participants leave their cameras on.
- Ensure a decision is made. Some teams can talk for hours without resolving anything if given a chance. When it’s time to wrap things up, briefly summarize the discussion and call for a consensus about the next steps. If a decision can’t be made promptly, you might need to table the discussion.
- Finally, effective meeting management means knowing when to call it quits. If a meeting stalls and you’re not progressing, adjourn and reconvene later. It might help to assign more research or ask your employees to brainstorm on their own, so you’ll arrive at the next meeting in a better position to succeed.
Meetings are necessary for business; a business coach can help you do them significantly better. If you’re struggling to make the most of your business meeting facilitation, click on my contact form for a complimentary video call to develop your meeting management skills .