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Good Meeting Facilitation Can Make a Group’s Job Easier!

We live in an increasingly busy world.  In addition, much of what we accomplish in the workplace or in our community is done with groups of people and in meetings.  Many of us have been involved in meetings that have been very effective at accomplishing their intended purposes.  However, some of us may have experienced meetings where our time could have been better spent almost anywhere else. 

To help you improve the chances that your next meeting will be a success, here are some points to think about.

Think back to a meeting you participated in that went well.  Consider that meeting and jot down your responses to the following questions.

  • What was it that made that meeting go well? 
  • What happened that made it possible for the group to accomplish its goals?
  • What did the leader of the group do that contributed to the meeting’s success?
  • How did group members positively contribute to the meeting?

Just as we may have been in meetings that have turned out well, many of us have been in meetings that have gone poorly.  Now, think back to a meeting you participated in that was not effective.  Make note of your responses to the following questions.

  • What was it that made that meeting go so badly? 
  • What made it difficult for the group to accomplish its goals?
  • What did the leader of the group do that contributed to the meeting’s failure?
  • How did group members make the situation worse?

Poor meetings have a way of draining our energy and squashing our enthusiasm for a particular project.  You, as a group member or group leader, can improve your facilitation skills – making your time in meetings more productive.

It is much more rewarding to be part of meetings that are facilitated well and where something is accomplished.  Consider the following questions. 

  • Now that you have considered a poorly run and a well run meeting, what skills do you think an effective meeting facilitator should have?
  • How can group members assist in making a meeting successful?
  • How can you develop skills to facilitate your next meeting more effectively?

Start a list and make a plan today to improve your facilitation skills. 

Here are a few tips to help strengthen your own facilitation skills:

  • Make sure everyone understands his/her roles and responsibilities.
  • In between meetings, practice your facilitation skills and support others as they practice theirs too.
  • Remember to establish ground rules or guidelines for you meetings, or remind your group members of what they are, before you begin each meeting.
  • If you are working with a challenging group, consider asking someone to be an observer at your next meeting.  Ask them to make note of how the group is functioning and how individuals are interacting.
  • Ask for feedback, at the end of the meeting, about how the meeting went.
  • Incorporate the feedback you receive into your next meeting, if appropriate.

Want to learn more about facilitating groups?  Check out:

  • Facilitation: What Is It?: Bulletin # 6101 from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Publication Catalog at:

                    http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/6101.pdf

                    or at:

                    http://extension.umaine.edu/publications/6101e/

  • Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Curriculum: Item #6115 from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Publication Catalog at:

                    http://extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu/

  • The University of Maine Cooperative Extension facilitation training schedule, available from jane.haskell@maine.edu

For more information or to comment on this blog, contact:

  • deborah.killam@maine.edu

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