As more organizations transition their workforce online, a meeting facilitator must understand the different aspects of conducting online sessions. It helps when an organization provides practical meeting facilitation training to employees expected to facilitate virtual meetings. Use these tips to make sure your group receives the most benefit when you facilitate a meeting. Tools like Docket help meeting facilitators remain organized and keep online sessions on track.
Meeting Roles and Responsibilities
One of the most important aspects of facilitating an effective meeting is assigning duties and responsibilities. Part of the facilitation process is informing group members about their role in achieving the meeting’s goals. Failing to get these roles worked out before a meeting can lead to people going off-track from the main agenda.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the roles to fill during meetings. Having good facilitation skills means finding the right people for these roles. We’ll also look at the difference between a facilitator vs. moderator.
The meeting leader is the one in charge of arranging where people will meet, picking a time, and ensuring all required attendees receive an invite. They oversee setting the agenda and communicating pertinent details about the meeting to all participants. Meeting leaders are the ones who designate individuals to fill the other required meeting roles.
Some questions meeting leaders often consider when arranging for a meeting include:
- What time best suits the schedule of all participants?
- Are there any conflicts that might interfere with the meeting?
- Which participants need to be involved in the meeting?
- What outcomes are we looking to achieve from the meeting?
- Is there a need for clients, vendors, or others external to attend the meeting?
Meeting leaders must have a solid agenda that covers all topics up for discussion. That helps manage the conversations logically, keeping meeting participants engaged while not wasting their time.
As the meeting facilitator, your job is to assist the leader by making sure everyone sticks to the agenda’s substance without going off on different topics. Facilitators assume responsibility for making sure the leader achieves their desired outcome while maintaining a position of neutrality. They look for the best methods of helping everyone in the meeting have what they need to accomplish the leader’s tasks.
People often confuse the role of a facilitator with that of a moderator. The most significant difference between a facilitator vs. moderator is that facilitation skills involve keeping the process of the meeting itself on track. In contrast, a moderator may get more deeply involved in the details of a discussion. However, moderators and facilitators monitor the exchanges between participants and help move the conversation flow from one topic to another.
The meeting recorder’s responsibilities include understanding the terminology used by the group along with the meaning. They document the critical decisions made and upcoming actions outlined during a meeting, recording everything accurately to avoid chaos later.
Meeting recorders help the leader develop and distribute the meeting agenda, helping them remember the items covered at previous meetings. That helps ensure that outstanding issues get added to the agenda and don’t get overlooked. The meeting recorder creates a formal copy of all notes taken and distributes them to all meeting participants.
The meeting timekeeper is charged with maintaining order by ensuring that the group sticks to each agenda item’s allotted time. They keep the group from spending too much time on one point, which can lead to time running out before discussing other important issues.
Many timekeepers also assume responsibility for managing visual aids like PowerPoint presentations. That allows the meeting leader to stay focused and fully involved in the current discussion without external distractions.
Meeting Facilitation Training
Undergoing group facilitation training is a good idea for facilitators who might be new to the role. They can learn about different guidelines for facilitating a meeting and being a good facilitator under varying meeting circumstances. Other essential skills you can learn from group facilitation training include how to chair a meeting, what to say when called upon, and other meeting facilitation best practices.
It may be possible to earn a meeting facilitation certification that showcases your meeting facilitation skills, depending on your chosen program. You should also have a solid knowledge base of working with different meeting facilitation tools. Make sure the training program you choose covers that topic in the meeting facilitation training offered.
If you find it challenging to travel to participate in meeting facilitation training courses, then look for a virtual option. It is possible to learn meeting facilitation training online, which can be easier to fit into your current schedule.
Facilitating Effective Meetings
As the meeting facilitator, you need to maintain a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the entire meeting process. That strategic approach will help you find the best methods to apply to different group scenarios to help them get through a meeting successfully. One meeting facilitator example of what they may deal with is figuring out what works for a meeting between executives versus facilitating a discussion among technical leads on a project. That’s part of the meeting facilitator job description.
Meeting facilitators must have the trust and respect of the group. They should feel comfortable because you have no biases. One of the many meeting facilitator jobs you must handle includes helping meeting participants work toward the desired goal.
The meeting facilitator means you should remember when called to fill meeting facilitator jobs to remain impartial. Successfully serving the meeting facilitator role means avoiding trying to influence the meeting outcome in any specific direction.
Typical meeting facilitator role and responsibilities include:
- Keeping the meeting focused on specific topics, so participant’s thoughts don’t wander
- Make sure the agenda is clear and understandable to all meeting attendees
- Answer questions participants might have about the meeting
- Make sure the meeting platform software functions correctly before attendees arriving
The difference between a meeting facilitator vs. chair, or a meeting leader vs. facilitator is that the chair or leader is in charge. However, the facilitator may step in to ensure that all voices get heard so that one person does not dominate every discussion aspect.
Meeting Facilitation Best Practices
Here are some general tips followed by good meeting facilitators.
- Start with an agenda — Make sure you work with the leader to ensure all goals and tasks to accomplish are outlined, and that meeting roles are filled with the right people.
- Invite all relevant participants — You want to make sure that the people capable of offering valuable input on decisions around an agenda item are available to provide feedback and advice.
- Stay on track — Don’t be afraid to reign in someone who’s gone off on a tangent that threatens to eat into the allotted time to discuss a specific issue.
- Keep everyone engaged — Try to create an atmosphere where everyone feels safe offering their opinion, whether in agreement or dissent from others’ ideas. You don’t want people feeling that their opinion doesn’t matter to the group.
Guidelines for Facilitating a Meeting
A facilitator typically fulfills three critical roles during meetings.
What Are the Three Roles of a Meeting Facilitator?
- Guide — Meeting facilitators make sure that everyone successfully executes their meeting roles and responsibilities.
- Organizer — Meeting facilitators help leaders with the relevant details like setting up arrangements, inviting attendees, and understanding the different techniques used in meetings.
- Navigator — Meeting facilitators ensure that every meeting follows all required practices and processes like sticking to the agenda, accurate timekeeping, and getting the group through disagreements that might arise.
What are Team Facilitation Techniques?
The best way to get everyone to relax and into the spirit of a meeting is to start a session off with some team facilitation exercises. Let’s look at some techniques meeting facilitators typically use to set the tone for a successful meeting.
- Establishment of Ground Rules — The meeting facilitator should work with the group leader to develop a code of conduct to follow during the meeting. They should be practical ground rules that don’t end up stifling creativity from the group.
- Action Planning — Action planning involves picking an action to take, deciding on a start date and end date, assigning a person to the action, and tracking its progress.
- Brainstorming — This is a period where meeting participants get the chance to let ideas flow freely between each other. Everyone should avoid offering criticisms during this time.
- Review — End meetings by reviewing what each participant learned from the experience.
Successfully executing team facilitation techniques relies on a variety of factors, including:
- Who is the meeting facilitator (are they independent?)
- The willingness of the group to stick to the rules
- A leader willing to let others in the meeting offer alternative ideas
Things to Avoid
- Don’t come into meetings unprepared. It takes more than sending out an invite to have a successful meeting. Most meetings go off-track because of a failure to execute the duties of a meeting facilitator properly.
- Don’t be afraid to step in when people lose focus on what’s important. Step in and steer the group back to the items on the agenda.
- Don’t forget to debrief your participants. The best way to become a better meeting facilitator is by learning from the group’s feedback, especially with recurring meetings.
- Don’t bypass workshop facilitation training. If you find yourself called to act as a meeting facilitator, learn more about the role and help make the experience beneficial for all participants.
Docket software helps make the role of a meeting facilitator easier. The workspace allows you to conduct a collaborative experience while documenting essential items and tracking actions. Learn more about Docket for your team by signing up for a free trial.