Guidelines for Facilitating a Meeting

Guidelines for  Facilitating a Meeting

To facilitate a meeting you need handle the meeting in such a way that it takes the focus away from one leader and distributes leadership to all the members of the group. Facilitation is often contrasted to presentation where information is delivered to a group. Presentation is leader-centered while facilitation is group-centered.

The Meeting Facilitator

The facilitator is the person responsible for managing the process of the group-centered meeting. The Facilitator helps the group to arrive at their objective by ensuring everyone’s contribution is heard and that the processes being used are productive. He or she may also be required to help set meeting structures and manage conflicts.

Effective facilitators remain neutral to the discussion and need to be acceptable to everyone involved. They should not take a position on the issues raised nor should they advocate a solution. The objectivity of the facilitator will encourage the group members to voice their opinions. To become an effective facilitator, he or she needs to have knowledge of group process and an appreciation of democratic management. Keen observation and sensitivity are also a must-have for a facilitator to be effective.

Planning a Facilitated Meeting

The following are some steps to take when preparing for a facilitated meeting:

  • Find the right venue. The meeting venue should be conducive to comfortable discussion. Make sure you have all the required materials such as markers, nametags and flip chart paper. If breakaway rooms will be used, make sure they are also adequately prepared.
  • Set enough time for the facilitated meeting, it should not be rushed.
  • Prepare a facilitation plan. The facilitator should not go blindly into a meeting; it always pays to be prepared. He or she should know the objective of the meeting, the expectations of the group and the profile of the participants.
  • Plan how the meeting will be documented. To assist with the follow up process, the meeting should be documented.
  • The facilitator should also prepare internally before facilitating a meeting. He or she should be in a relaxed frame of mind before facilitating.

Encouraging Participation in the Meeting

These are some of the ways a facilitator can encourage participation in the meeting:

  • Provide the participants with some preparation guidelines in the meeting agenda.
  • Make sure everyone is comfortable before starting the meeting.
  • Make sure that all participants know that participation is not just welcome but integral to the process.
  • Acknowledge all contributions both verbally and non-verbally.
  • Be careful not to respond to a contribution in a way that may be seen as devaluing the contribution.
  • Encourage participation by directly asking everyone their opinion on a subject matter.
  • Build on responses by integrating each member’s response with that of other members.
  • Contribution can also be encouraged by intentionally keeping silent.
  • Thanking each member for their contribution can encourage greater involvement in succeeding meetings.

Gathering Information during the Meeting

The following are some techniques that a facilitator may use to gather information during the meeting:

  • In the Go-round technique, each member gets a turn to speak without getting interrupted.
  • Break out groups can be formed to divide the participants into smaller groups. A representative from each group will share the group’s point of view.
  • The brainstorming technique involves getting as many ideas from the group in a limited time. Any idea is verbalized whether good or bad. When the time is up the ideas are discussed by the group.
  • The Fishbowl Method may be used when an intense discussion of a subject is needed, but the group is large and the time is limited. In this technique, a sample of the group discusses the topic while the rest function as observers.

Synthesizing and Summarizing

Synthesis is an integration of key points in the discussion and summarizing is a recap of what has transpired during the meeting. The following are some ways the facilitator can synthesise or summarize during the meeting:

  • Let the participants summarize or synthesize themselves.
  • Ask a participant to provide a synthesis or summary.
  • Offer a tentative synthesis or summary and seek for the group’s clarification.
  • Refer back to the agenda or published documentation.

Meeting Venues in Sandton

How to Set Up a Meeting Venue

How to Set Up a Meeting Venue

There are many things you need to take into consideration when you set up the meeting venue.  It is often attention to the small details that make for a successful meeting.

The Essentials of Setting Up the Meeting Venue

The following is a list of essentials in setting up the meeting venue:

  • Sufficient number of tables and chairs
  • Power strips for laptops and other electronic devices
  • Audio and visual set up
  • Whiteboard with markers and eraser
  • Lectern
  • Water
  • Verify the room temperature is comfortable
  • Microphone for large meetings
  • Projector
  • Laptop
  • Verify room is located in quiet and private area

Get to the venue early enough that you have sufficient time to set up the meeting venue before the participants arrive.

Extra Touches That Will Make the Meeting More Meaningful

When it comes to adding extra touches, keep the purpose of the meeting in mind. The following is a list of extra touches that you can incorporate in your preparation to make the meeting more meaningful to your participants:

  • Name tents already printed and set up on the tables
  • Table with name tags for each participant already printed
  • Projector on with a welcome message illuminating on the screen
  • Signage outside the meeting room professionally done
  • Keepsake or logo item at each place setting
  • Music before meeting starts and during breaks
  • Folder with all meeting materials inside
  • Candy or mints at the tables
  • Posters or visual aids posted around the meeting room
  • Video playing relevant materials on the screen before meeting starts
  • Coat rack during winter months

Choosing the Seating Arrangement

The basic seating arrangements that you can choose for the meeting are as follows:

  • Conference Style Seating. This is the basic rectangular or oval shaped table and is good for short meetings with less than 30 participants. It is usually used for small training sessions and close interactions.
  • U-shape Seating. In this setup the tables form a U shape. This setup is effective where face-to-face interaction is required but also accommodates larger groups.
  • T-Shape Seating. In this setup the tables form a T shape. This setup is suitable for face-to-face and large group meetings. It allows for leaders to sit at the cross point.
  • Classroom Style Seating. This type of seating is best when learning is going to take place, and the participants need to take notes. This style can be used for both large and small groups.

The following are some suggestions for seating arrangements based on the meeting type:

  • Planning meeting: conference style seating
  • Product sales training: classroom style seating
  • Strategy sharing meeting: T-shape style seating
  • Project update meeting: U-shape style seating

The physical arrangement of the meeting room should always focus on providing a comfortable set up where all participants can view the presenter, other participants, screens, flipchart and whiteboards.

Meeting Venues in Sandton

How to Effectively Plan and Prepare for Your Meeting

How to Effectively Plan and Prepare for Your Meeting

Your planning and preparation activity is vital to the success of your meeting. In the planning and preparing phase you will be defining the purpose of your meeting, the people who should attend, and the place of the meeting. Planning and preparing for your meeting helps to reduce the stress that may result from managing a meeting.

Determining the Meeting Participants

Determining your meeting participants is an important planning step. Who attends your meeting could help or hinder the meeting dynamics. Think about the purpose of the meeting to help determine who you should invite. For example, if you are meeting to resolve a problem, invite only those who are capable of providing solutions to the problem. Having people who cannot contribute to the meeting will exclude them and affect the meeting environment. The following are some common reasons to call a meeting:

  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Project initiation
  • Planning
  • Brainstorming

Once you determine your meeting purpose, you can list all the names of the participants you wish to attend. Once this list is created, then determine what each participant will contribute to the meeting. If a participant is deemed a non-contributor, they should be removed from the list. When all non-contributors are removed, you should have a good list of participants for your meeting.

Planning the Time and Place of the Meeting

There are several considerations you must address when planning the time and place of your meeting. For instance, the time of day is important if your meeting is meant to be a brainstorming session or problem-solving meeting. Setting these types of meetings right after lunch or late in the day could be a frustrating experience. Choosing the correct venue for your meeting is essential to its success. Try to schedule your meeting in a well-lit spacious room. If the meeting topic is of a sensitive nature, then getting a room with privacy will make participants more comfortable to discuss the issue.

Creating the Meeting Agenda

  • Seek topics from your participants. Send an email to the list of participants you created, asking for agenda topics. Give a brief explanation of the purpose of the meeting and an idea of what you are looking for in terms of topics.
  • Organize the topics into a list. Once you receive the topics, organize them into a list along with the time and the name of the presenter. This will give you the ability to scan through the list, narrowing it down to the topics you will select for the agenda.
  • Assess which topics are relevant to the meeting purpose. Scratch out those topics you do not intend to use.
  • Pick the number of relevant topics that will fit your meeting time. Review the time of the remaining topics. Select the enough topics to fill the time of your meeting minus ten minutes. Give yourself ten minutes for meeting overrun. If you go over, you will end on time. If you do not, then you get to adjourn your meeting early, making everyone happy.

Gathering the Materials for the Meeting

You need to determine which materials you need for the meeting and acquire them in advance.

  • Stationary: this is all the paper you will need at the meeting. It includes notepads, sticky notes, index cards, envelopes, tape, paper clips, folders, and flip chart.
  • Handouts: many times you or your presenters will need to distribute handouts. There could be a worksheet or an outline from an electronic presentation. Consult with your presenters and acquire any handouts they may use.
  • Organizer: Using an organizer like a portable accordion file is an easy way to file your handouts and other stationary materials in one container. The filing system will allow you to file the documents in an orderly fashion, making distribution of the materials more professional.
  • Writing tools: this includes pens, markers, highlighters, and dry erase markers you may need for your meeting.
  • Special requests: from time to time, your presenters may make a special request. An example could be a poster. Ask your presenters ahead of time for special requests.

Sending Meeting Invitations

It is essential to have a consistent and clear method of structuring your meeting invitation:

  • The purpose of the meeting must be stated up front. Be specific with your purpose and attach the meeting agenda to the invitation.
  • The time and place where the meeting should be determined ahead of time and included in the invitation. Provide clear instruction on the exact location.
  • Create a sense of binding agreement by setting expectations, so you get the most responses as soon as possible with a level of commitment. Include a cancellation

Making Logistical Arrangements

There are several areas where you should be planning the logistics of the meeting:

  • Consider the space in which you plan to hold your meeting.
  • Identify who will need to travel to your meeting.
  • Determine if you need to organize meals.
  • Arrange audio and visual equipment for the meeting.
  • Do you need signs and posters for the meeting?

Meeting Venues in Sandton