Everyone has been in bad meetings – unfocused, dominated by a few, where nobody tells the truth, where the “elephant in the room” is ignored, or where some insist on “beating the dead horse” – but not everyone recognizes how important the design and facilitation of a meeting is. How a meeting is designed and facilitated virtually dictates the outcomes; if it were easy to have good meetings, all meetings would be good. The most common approaches to meetings – putting a bunch of people in a room and letting them talk without a plan/agenda/design, or having them report about what they are doing outside the meeting – are in fact the worst possible approaches.
Those who have had the pleasure of attending meetings that have been designed and facilitated by professionals recognize the immeasurable benefits that the outside perspective of a neutral facilitator brings. It makes it possible for everyone to participate in a meeting, including those who are intimidated in group settings, those who feel their position does not give them the authority to speak, and even those who fear reprisal for speaking. It also makes is possible for a leader to be a participant, not so burdened by the “meeting leader” role that they cannot really engage, or to not stifle the involvement of others merely by being in that role.
More on meeting facilitation
This service might be for you if...
Instead of participants wondering, “Why am I here, when can I leave and how can I check my messages,” you can have a meeting where everyone is engaged and energy levels remain high. This is the type of meeting where it is possible to actually build consensus, bring closure and get agreement on issues – even on difficult ones – in part because people are able to say things that need to be said but normally are not spoken.
Our successful meeting design and facilitation services are due in part to the pre- and post- meeting work we undertake with the client. Large or complex meetings can take many weeks of planning and require a thorough needs assessment that includes setting specific goals or outcomes and designing the right conversations in the right configurations to meet those goals.
But it is not only large or complex meetings that waste untold hours and ultimately destroy morale and commitment. Often routine meetings can be vastly improved through a process that looks at meeting goals, format, decision-making procedures, roles, outcomes, and comprehensive action plans.
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This service might be for you if:
- More often than not, you believe your meetings are a waste of time.
- It is commonly known in your organization that important matters get decided before and after meetings rather than at the meetings.
- Your meetings are rigid, boring, scripted, pro-forma and/or useless.
- As a leader you find you cannot participate fully in meetings when necessary or that you seem to frequently be the only one who has the floor during meetings.
- There are one or two group members who dominate the discussion and are able to keep the group from making decisions.
- There is suspicion that meeting minutes are used as an evidentiary device, a collection of documentation of who said what in a way that can be used against team members later.
- It never really occurred to you that the arrangement of seating and tables can make a big difference in meeting outcomes.
- Attendees are regularly absent from meetings due to other priorities or “crises.”
- Participants are clearly more engaged with their laptops, BlackBerries or Palm Pilots than in the meeting agenda.