A ‘facilitator’ by definition is a person who makes any action or process easier.
Our primary task is to minimize obstacles that could derail a meeting’s purpose, making it easier for attendees to absorb the material.
In part one of our three-part series on becoming a better facilitator, we cover what you should do before the meeting starts. Part two will discuss what should be done during meeting, with part three following suit with what you should do after.
The three parts will be explained through 15 important questions we should ask ourselves through each step of a meeting. MLP 044 presents 1-5:
- Why is it important to figure out why you need to meet?
- Why choose a great meeting location and make it inviting?
- Why should you be prepared and what should you get ready?
- Why should you get in touch with everyone before the meeting?
- Why should you set up early?
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00:00 – Show opening
Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then, get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation, you’re listening to the Meeting Leadership podcast with Gordon Sheppard.
00:28 – Podcast starts here
Gordon Sheppard Speaking
Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I want to say, honestly, thanks for taking time out of your valuable day to be here listening to the show to pick up another tip, another skill, another way to improve your leadership and learn how to run outstanding meetings. If you are already running meetings or you’re just learning how, I think you’re going to really appreciate today’s episode on the Meeting Leadership podcast. Today, we’re going to talk about how to be a good facilitator. Just so you know, this is part one of a three part series.
01:02 – What to do before a meeting
Now, in part one of how to be a good facilitator, we’re going to help you learn about what a good facilitator does before a meeting. Then, in part two, we’re going to help you figure out what a good facilitator does during a meeting. Finally, in part three, we’re going to help you figure out what a good facilitator does after a meeting. I’ll make sure that it’s easy for you to find all of those episodes by leaving the links in the show notes for this episode, episode 44. You can get this episode by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/44.
01:34 – 15-question meeting facilitator checklist – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/44download
To help you learn how to be a good facilitator, I’ve prepared a list of 15 questions. What’s going to be happening is we’re going to answer those questions throughout this three part series. If you would like a copy of that list so you can follow along, then visit meetingleadershipinc.com/44download. That’s /44download. Before we jump into the questions for part one, I want you to take a step back and give yourself a quick rating as a meeting facilitator. We’re just going to use a simple scale on a one out of 10 basis.
02:08 – Rate yourself as a meeting facilitator
If you are like a two out of 10, that means the trust level in your meetings is low, folks are arriving late and these types of things are happening in your meetings, you’re going to have to question whether or not you should be a meeting leader. Maybe it’s not even worth going through this training because you’re never going to get there because, really, honestly, if you’re honest, you may not even like running meetings.
For some other people who are listening, you might be giving yourself like a five or a six out of 10. Now that means you’re doing things adequately right now, but you have a lot of room to grow. Of course, if you are giving yourself like a nine out of 10 or a 10 out of 10, then you should be teaching this material to other people. Unless you’re one of those sort of leaders who likes to get 1% improvements, you will get something out of this because these questions are great prompts. Otherwise, please go spread the joy. The world doesn’t have enough great meeting leaders. Go and help somebody else learn how to do it. Once you’ve given yourself a number out of 10, I want you to write that maybe on a sticky note or that kind of thing. Then, you’re going to put it away for a little while. Then, after you’ve gone through part one, part two and part three of this training, then you’re going to give yourself a number out of 10 again. You’re going to really be honest with yourself about whether or not you’ve actually made some progress. I can’t tell you how much I would appreciate getting some feedback about your results.
If you’ve given yourself a number out of 10 and you’ve made some improvements after going through again these three parts, then please send me an email, get in touch with me on LinkedIn. You can even leave a comment right down at the bottom of the post for episode 44. Whatever way you do it, please send your feedback. I would love to hear about your progress.
03:49 – Part 1, Question 1 – Why is it important to figure out why you need to meet?
Now, let’s jump right in with the first question for part one of how to be a good facilitator. Number one, why is it important to figure out why you need to meet? This is a super area of passion for me, because it goes right to the root of the main work that I do. Now, many of you have heard me say this before, but I’m going to say it again, I believe you should be able to stop any meeting at any moment and connect that moment right to your strategy.
Now, I believe this so passionately, I always say it twice. I believe you should be able to stop any meeting at any moment and connect that moment directly to your strategy. What does that mean for you as a meeting facilitator? I think that most facilitators would do themselves a really good service and actually get a copy of their organization’s strategy and read it. Then, they can be really familiar with those big ideas, the big key objectives that the organization is trying to drive throughout the year.
If you can get into the mindset that every meeting that you lead is actually moving that big picture strategy forward, then you will always know why you need to meet. Of course, you’re going to need to turn this big idea into a bite-size chunk. The simple answer to this one is what is the goal of the meeting and what type of meeting are you trying to have?
Do you want to make decisions? Do you want to do brainstorming and that kind of thing? Then, again, if that goal is a simple bite-size chunk of some of your bigger ideas, then it will be really, really clear why you’re having a meeting. I can tell you, you will get so many people on board in your meetings. If you know you’re super clear about the why, they will absolutely follow along and it will create a higher level of accountability.
05:31 – Part 1, Question 2 – Why choose a great meeting location and make it inviting?
Now, let’s move onto question number two, which is why choose a great meeting location and make it inviting? Let me tell you my perspective on this one. Now, I believe that where you meet is as important as what you’re meeting about. It really is a reflection of the culture and the tone that you want to set in a given meeting. Let’s say you’re going to one of those regular meeting rooms and nobody’s bothered to, I don’t know, clean up the old papers or put away the pens or there’s stuff up on the walls that’s not really very exciting or that kind of thing, that’s the kind of meeting that you’re going to have. If you take the time, even in a regular meeting room, to tidy it up, maybe put an inspirational saying or a picture on the wall of your team, and that’s the kind of thing that starts to get people engaged and really excited, then the location itself is going to help you have a better meeting,
06:22 – Part 1, Question 3 – Why should you be prepared and what should you get ready?
Which leads me into question number three, which is this, why should you be prepared and what should you get ready? The crazy thing is if you are prepared, you are going to be in the top 10% of meeting facilitators in general. I mean most people, so many of them are just winging it. They’re showing up. They don’t have anything like an agenda. They haven’t even been very thoughtful about why people are getting together, so why be prepared? You will set yourself apart if you are. People will feel respected and they’re really going to get behind you, again, if you’re showing that you’ve put in the effort.
In terms of what you should get ready, of course, it’s the agenda. The piece I’m going to point out, because I actually have a whole other course coming up on agendas, the piece I want to point out here is just think in your mind, how much time should you spend to prepare an agenda? Now, so many meeting facilitators spend zero, I mean zero, minutes. They just show up, they wing it, that kind of thing. Other people think 15 minutes is a lot. Some people think you should be actually spending the same amount of time preparing the agenda as the amount of time that you’re going to meet.
Now, whatever range you fit into, make sure that you’re putting aside an adequate amount of time. Now, if you really want to go crazy, have somebody else read and reflect back to you what they think of the agenda before you go to the meeting. That is a great way to take it one step up.
07:45 – Part 1, Question 4 – Why should you get in touch with everyone before the meting
If you’re the type of meeting leader who likes to really be prepared, then you’re going to really like question number four which is this, why should you get in touch with everyone before the meeting? This one’s pretty obvious if you want to have a great meeting. Of course, it creates alignment, right? You can actually start to get people warmed up. Remember, you establish that goal from the first question, and then you can tell them what that actually is before you get to the meeting. Then, they can be really preparing themselves to bring the best of what they have to offer when they actually get into the room.
I also believe that getting in touch with individuals before any given meeting is a great way to avoid conflict. In fact, it’s something that I do with every professional facilitation situation that I get into, because I want to make sure that I know 95% of the issues before we get into the room. While I understand that many of you in your heads right now are saying, “Hey, I’m too busy to do this kind of preparation,” I can tell you it will pay off in the end.
08:44 – Part 1, Question 5 – Why should you set up early?
Which leads me into question number five, which is this, why should you set up early? I was mentioning it before, the idea is you want to make it like you’re inviting people into your own home. You want the meeting room to be a reflection of the culture of your team, of your organization. Also, you want to make sure you get all that tech out of the way. Can you turn on the projector? Do you need Wifi? Whatever those things are. Maybe you’ve got to get some refreshments out. Those are the kind of things that often eat up the first 10, 15, 20 minutes of a meeting and slow things down. If you want to be a good facilitator, you’ll make sure all those things are taken care of.
09:23 – Recap of questions 1-5
Now, let me take a moment to recap the five questions from part one of how to be a good facilitator.
Number one, why is it important to figure out why you need to meet?
Number two, why choose a great meeting location and make it inviting?
Number three, why should you be prepared and what should you get ready?
Number four, why should you get in touch with everyone before the meeting?
Number five, why should you set up early?
Congratulations, we’ve just gotten through the first five questions that are going to help you learn how to be a good facilitator. Now, of course, part two and part three are coming up in episodes 51 and 58 of the Meeting Leadership podcast. You will definitely find the links to those episodes in today’s show notes. You can get those by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/44. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the show, I’ve also prepared a list of the 15 questions themselves. If you’d like to get a copy of that list, just go to meetingleadershipinc.com/44download.
10:32 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
If you’ve been enjoying this process and you’d like to develop your meeting leadership skills even further, then check out the online courses at the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now, there, I can tell you that we’re putting out courses for leadership development, how to be a good facilitator, how to build a blockbuster agenda and a whole lot more. You can learn more about all these resources by visiting meetingleadershipinc.com/academy. As always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. Don’t forget to rate and review, so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership podcast.
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