Let’s face it – the last thing we all need is another conference call, Zoom or Webex meeting. Most of our days are full of them. For C-level executives, the number is taken to an exponential level. Rarely is there 30 minutes in their day that is not occupied with a call, meeting, or video session.
“The difference between a well thought through and well-facilitated meeting and a poorly run meeting is significant. It puts value back in my day.” CEO, Retail Company
A meeting facilitator who understands the demands on executives’ time and attention, is required to elevate the interaction, insights and actions. A facilitator who prepares with the meeting participants to ensure the session targets the right set of outcomes. A meeting facilitator who identifies the issues that matter most to all participants and keeps the meeting moving forward.
Virtual sessions – even more than in-person meetings, require strong facilitation. A facilitator who will interrupt, seek answers to the questions on everyone’s minds, eliminate discussions that will derail the session, and focus on a set of meeting goals that bring value to everyone.
Here are some tips on what you should expect from your in-person or virtual meeting facilitator:
Ask and Listen versus Talk and Pitch:
Most people gain energy from speaking and engaging with others, not listening. The meeting facilitators’ job is to keep the group talking. Facilitators should not spend hours asking questions, espousing their expertise. The goal is to focus on the right questions, at the right time and to keep the subject matter presenters on task.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare:
Strong meeting facilitators prepare weeks in advance and enter the meeting clearly understanding the issues and how every participant feels about that topic. Be clear at the outset about the desired outcomes of each session and how the discussion will flow. Set clear expectations so that meeting participants know where they will be asked to engage.
Ask Open-Ended, Brief Questions:
Like successful journalists, successful meeting facilitators – ask simple, quick and open-ended questions that may redirect the discussion. Do not let your subject matter experts serve as facilitators – they will dominate the discussion and forget to ask for advice. Other things to remember:
- avoid leading questions;
- avoid asking and answering;
- ask curious-minded, objective questions;
- encourage multiple respondents to gather varying perspectives
Summarize Key Inputs:
Before shifting to the next topic in a meeting – even if your time is tight – take 2-3 minutes to summarize what you heard and allow the group to comment on your summary. Customer Advisory Board members want to know they were heard and that you and the organization you are representing listened and are taking away input and advice to act upon.