Meetings, for the most part, are plain talks and discussions. You cannot expect fun and perks in a meeting. Instead, the atmosphere is one that is serious. If a meeting is not properly facilitated, it can become pointless and ineffective. Meeting facilitators have to make sure that it turns out to be insightful and effective by knowing the methods in running a session.
The role of being a meeting organizer or facilitator may not be that easy, but the things to do are not that complicated, either. Unless the facilitator fails to follow the important steps in conducting a meeting, it may not be as effective as it should turn out to be.
Making the Necessary Preparations
We say that meetings are plain talks so more or less, the whole interaction and exchange of ideas is spontaneous. But the process is not impromptu; it should follow an outline or a structure. Apart from that, goal setting is not done instantly. Objectives must be well-thought of and realistic. So two very crucial aspects in a meeting preparation are identifying the objectives and planning the meeting agenda. When these are well-planned, the facilitator will be able to conduct meetings successfully.
When a meeting is called for, know first the purpose and its essence. Sometimes, certain issues can just be discussed outside of a meeting through the available means of office communication such as email, conference call, and notices. Discern whether tasks can be accomplished even without going through a meeting. A meeting is important when discussing issues that require brainstorming of ideas, when disseminating new information or gathering information. It is also important to find out the desired outcome of the meeting.
The meeting agenda is the very framework of the meeting. The facilitator relies mostly on the outline in the agenda. The meeting revolves around the things stated in the agenda since it indicates the important items to be discussed. Moreover, it specifies the timeframe for each agenda item.
The facilitator should stick to the indicated timeframe because it conditions the participants to make use of the discussion time well. A meeting can become effective if the agenda is sent out to the participants ahead of time and if it is followed religiously during the meeting proper.
Performing the Facilitator’s Role Effectively
The facilitator can be someone who is assigned to take charge of the meeting or can be the one calling for the meeting. This is a crucial role in the success of a meeting so the leader must also perform the role effectively. The agenda will serve as a guide for the facilitator in order for it to go well and smoothly. Since time is of the essence, the person in-charge must make sure to start and end the meeting on time. A lengthy discussion that leads to nowhere is just a waste of time for the participants.
The facilitator must supervise the traffic and exchange of ideas. Discussion must be within control to avoid conflicts. There are individuals who tend to manipulate a discussion while others can be passive and would opt to stay silent. These behaviors must be noted by the meeting leader.
To make it productive, the leader must make sure that everyone follows the proper meeting etiquette. Meeting norms minimize unnecessary arguments and personal attacks. Any offensive action and behavior must be addressed by the facilitator immediately.
Evaluation and Follow-Up
Wrapping up the session is an important aspect of a meeting. Before bringing it to a close, make sure that the key points of the discussion are summarized and the tasks or action plans assigned to the participants are clearly given. If feasible, let the attendees assess the meeting either through written evaluation or discussion approach. This is a way for you to identify the strong and weak points of the meeting process and the things that can be done better in the future sessions.
A good way to make a follow-through in meetings is to distribute the minutes within 24 hours after the meeting is adjourned, if possible. Some participants need to be reminded of their assignments and responsibilities. Meetings can become effective if these ways are observed in every session.