Unless you are self-employed, and you’re the only employee on the payroll, working with other people is an expected part of doing business. Whether you are a project manager, a supervisor, or in some type of leadership position, you’ll likely be required to facilitate a meeting at some point, putting your facilitation skills to the test.
Let’s get straight to the point. The most common mistake a meeting facilitator will make is to not understand what their role as a meeting facilitator is. In the following few paragraphs, I will provide some valuable tips on using facilitation skills effectively.
According to Webster’s dictionary, to facilitate means to make “easier or less difficult.” As a facilitator you need to understand that your role must be neutral. It’s important that you do not bias or persuade the group while they are brainstorming, narrowing down ideas, or making a consensus decision. “Why?” you may wonder. Well, because it’s your job to manage the meeting process so that participants can work together effectively to achieve the meeting objective(s).
When facilitating a meeting you should also consider your tone of voice. While it’s great to show passion and enthusiasm, make sure it’s consistent and not focused on specific replies. For example, it’s best not to say, “That’s a great idea!” to one person, and to someone else say, “That’s ok.”
Even your body language and facial expressions must be neutral. This means no frowning, signs of disbelief, or shock by an answer. Hand gestures need to be casual and natural, so that you don’t come across as the “boss.”
It all sounds quite elementary, but I can assure you, once you start facilitating meetings, you may find yourself transitioning into your “boss” role. Mastering any skill, and facilitation skills are no exception, requires practice, practice, and more practice. Remember the slogan, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!”
We welcome you to join us in our Facilitation Skills for New Facilitators workshop, where you can practice the fine art of facilitation. I look forward to seeing you at one in the future!