Meetings are commonplace in every organization, but most of them are underutilized at best. In most organizations, employees perceive meetings as the primary time waster. However, when used correctly, meetings are a powerful mechanism for expressing ideas, gathering information, making decisions, and communicating changes.
Meetings are a place where people experience and observe an organization’s culture, and organizations use meetings to define and perpetuate their cultures. Is time valued or wasted? Are people’s ideas encouraged and used or dismissed? Are problems addressed proactively or ignored? Are participants expected to guard their turf or work together toward the good of all? Is open, timely communication expected or discouraged?
Furthermore, new innovations, as well as global and increasingly sophisticated competition, drive organizations to reevaluate and challenge the basic concepts that have delivered past success. Organizations thus utilize participative methods, involving all levels, in a more dynamic, higher-impact process of planning, decision making, and implementation. And organizations primarily use meetings to employ and integrate these improvements.
Despite the ever-continuing use of technology and social media, meetings remain essential when working with people. Staff meetings, strategy sessions, project team meetings, and so on remain an integral part of organizational life.
Because meetings are so critical, effective meeting facilitators have become an essential link in the chain of people who deliver organizational success. Meeting facilitators create the agendas and techniques that constitute meeting structure. This allows meeting participants to focus on the content of their discussions and leave the management of those conversations to the facilitator. It is not the facilitator’s job to define the content or outcomes of any meeting; instead, the facilitator defines the structure, processes, and techniques required so that the participants can effectively accomplish the goals of their agendas.
Successful meeting facilitators possess certain attributes. They are self-confident, flexible, and humorous. They are enthusiastic and sincere. They are assertive, creative, and intuitive. They work well with a team and are dedicated to learning. These attributes are at best difficult to teach.
Meeting facilitators also possess the expertise to successfully facilitate a participative meeting. This know-how arises in the form of specific skills that are accessible to almost anybody with the will to learn. The quest for new and more effective techniques never ends. Even the most experienced meeting facilitator requires new levels of skill and knowledge.
This blog is dedicated to sharing the tools and techniques meeting facilitators need to stay on the cutting edge of change and organizational success.