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Awesome Meetings: How to facilitate a meeting?

The easiest way to convert a mediocre meeting into an awesome one is having a meeting facilitator. Let's see how…

According to Wikipedia: "A facilitator is someone who engages in facilitation—any activity that makes a social process easy or easier. A facilitator often helps a group of people to understand their common objectives and assists them to plan how to achieve these objectives; in doing so, the facilitator remains "neutral", meaning he/she does not take a particular position in the discussion."

What is the role of a meeting facilitator? Imagine that one day you wake up and everything is just there for you, when you need it. Coffee is freshly brewed, waiting on the counter. The morning newspaper is conveniently laid on your armchair. Your clothes are neatly prepared near your bed. Almost like a gnome did all the work for you, so you can focus on your business and not the nitty-gritty. The meeting facilitator is such a helpful hand for your meetings. They help you organize it, keep track of time, and materials, and focus. They can be an impartial partner in discussions and provide feedback without involvement. They make everything run smoothly, focused, and effectively.

Who should be a meeting facilitator? Depending on the meeting form, it could be most of the time… you, or whoever is the meeting organizer. Decision meetings are better with an impartial assistant or somebody from a completely different team. Office managers, SCRUM Masters, and Human Resources colleagues make rock-star facilitators! It should be somebody who can stay for the entirety of the meeting and at best a few minutes before and after the meeting (explanation for why? is coming).

What are the tasks of a facilitator? As already mentioned, the role of a facilitator is to make the process easier. That's why the facilitator's tasks will be aimed at that:

  • Meeting organization: the facilitator will organize, invite, and inform the participants about the meeting place, start, duration, and the agenda,

  • Communication management: effective meetings have a consistent flow of communication; the facilitator moderates the discussion, keeps every participant engaged by keeping track of time and helps to bring subtle opinions into the light that could otherwise be omitted,

  • Documentation: one of the biggest tasks for a good meeting facilitator is taking notes and documenting the meeting flow, then sharing these notes with the participants.

Meeting facilitation is an often overlooked aspect of effective, stress-free meetings. It's still important to remember them and use their help because they can make or break the meeting!

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