Want to be a Better Meeting Host? Up-level your facilitation skills

Bob: “Wendy, I want to make it clear that meeting hosts nowadays need to be skilled in facilitation techniques. They are essentially facilitators, not just meeting hosts who follow an agenda and collect a list of action items at the end. Facilitators take time to design the flow of the entire meeting to ensure the meeting outcome is achieved with maximum engagement, participation, and input from all participants. As I mentioned, any meeting has a beginning, a middle, and an end, like any good movie. Last time, we talked about some of the considerations for the design, like using as many modes as possible to allow all types of participants to interact and engage. We also talked about how to start a meeting, to get people’s heads into the right space. I think we can move to the “middle,” which is the actual meeting itself.”

Me (Wendy): “Great! Since there are different types of meetings, let’s be specific. For brainstorming sessions, after taking 10 minutes to align with the async work that people contributed, the first thing I would like to get out of people is to hear or see their initial reactions. I think if everyone is given a chance to react, it reinforces the alignment, and also allows us as facilitators to see if the alignment is indeed there, or if there is something we need to do. This is our way of reading the room initially. What do you think?”

Bob: “I agree, but we need to make it lightweight and ensure that we hear from as many people as possible. What are some of the ways in which we might get a readout quickly?”

Me: “Well, I’m thinking for a very quick and lightweight thing, we can have “chatterfall” on Zoom (assuming we have at least one person attending virtually). If we have everyone in the same room, we can then just ask people to give a one-word adjective as their reaction, and popcorn to the next person.”

Bob: “Good idea. And for decision-making meetings, after the initial 10 minutes to align with the async work that people contributed, I would ask which portion people disagree with, or which portion they need more information on. Those will be the topics that we focus on, in order to drive closure and a decision at the end of the meeting.”

Me: “Yup! As for our training, since we didn’t ask folks to do any pre-work, we’ll use the first 10 minutes to ask people what their expectations are regarding the training. We can give them a (virtual) whiteboard with sticky notes and have them write for 5 minutes in silence, then share their stickies, and use 5 minutes to read other people’s stickies. What do you think?”

Bob: “I think we’ve covered it all!”

Read Wendy’s entire story here

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