Meetings are held in a company or an organization for people to come together to discuss various related issues and make certain important decisions. Many a time, meetings are not organized properly, resulting in chaos and ending without any productive results. This leads to loss of valuable time of the people attending the meeting. Sometimes, only a few people talk and discuss in a meeting, while the rest who are passive listeners find the whole activity boring. To prevent such situations from arising, it is important that meetings are properly facilitated.
Facilitation of Meetings
In recent years, the need for facilitators to organize and conduct meetings has been on the rise because meetings have become complex processes. Nowadays, meetings are not just between people who are physically present in a room, but they can also be between people in different places who are brought together through telephonic or video conferencing. Here comes the need for a facilitator who plans and organizes the whole meeting. Even normal regular face-to-face meetings held in organizations periodically, need to be well planned, to be effective. Some companies train their employees to become facilitators, while others hire facilitators from an outside agency, especially when the meeting involves important matters and top-level officials. It is the job of the facilitator to plan the logistics of the meeting well and see that it ends fruitfully, without any major hurdles. Essentially, facilitation is a set of skills to organize and manage business meetings and retreats, so as to make them more productive.
Techniques and Useful Tips
The most important factor in the process of facilitating a meeting is planning. A good meeting is one that begins and ends at the appointed time. While planning for a meeting, the facilitator should discuss with the convenor of the meeting/owners of the business about the main purpose or objective of the meeting. It is not necessary for a facilitator to be an expert in that area, but he or she should have a fair knowledge about it. As regards the topic of discussion, the facilitator has to decide upon the people who should attend the meeting. He or she should plan out an agenda and chalk out the proceedings. It is the job of the facilitator to see that the meeting runs on schedule. The facilitator has to create an environment before the meeting starts. It is his or her task to introduce each member present in the room and state the main purpose of the meeting. It is the job of a facilitator to ensure that every person participates in the discussion. However, special efforts should be taken to see that conflicts do not go out of control. The facilitator should have the ability to handle changing situations with poise. He or she must have excellent listening and observation skills. The facilitator should note down the points discussed during the meeting and ask questions about things that were not clearly discussed. Most important, a facilitator should be neutral towards the issues discussed at the meeting, and not take sides whatsoever. The facilitator should see to it that the discussion revolves around the objectives of the meeting. If it seems to him or her that the focus is shifting from the main point, the facilitator should bring the discussion on track. Usually meetings that are well-facilitated, end in the way planned by the facilitator. However, it does not mean that a meeting cannot go awry. The facilitator should be prepared for such situations and should think of alternative strategies beforehand so that when such a situation arises, he or she can handle it. Ultimately, facilitation is a management skill, as facilitators have to manage people and ideas for a better output. Following these tips for meeting felicitation can help in organizing a meeting that is smooth and efficient.