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How often do you attend a meeting or perhaps even lead a meeting and quickly realize that it’s “all over the map”?  This phenomenon is incredibly common for most of us and as a result you find yourself feeling frustrated because the meeting has not been a productive use of your time; no one I know can afford that!  What’s the solution?  In a word: facilitation.  To me, effective facilitation is like a reliable compass.

For the past year, I served in a volunteer role as the elected chairperson for a business referral group (BRG) at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this concept, a BRG is a local group of business professionals who meet on a consistent schedule (in our case twice a month) for the express purpose of fostering relationships and building business. Our group has approximately 30 loyal members who have diverse business expertise.

Yesterday, as our year was coming to a close, many BRG members offered positive feedback about their experience in our group and attributed this to the meeting facilitation.  To that end, I offer the following 10 tips about what effective facilitation requires:

1.  Whether you’re volunteering or not, be committed to the role of facilitator and take it seriously; people can tell when you feel otherwise.

2. Get to know the members of your group by showing interest in them and asking questions to learn what matters to them.

3. Spend quality time developing each meeting agenda ensuring that it’s designed to add value and is a productive use of time for your members; then adhere to the agenda.

4. Create exercises that challenge and stimulate members to grow and build new skills that they can use in business.

5. Stimulate discussion among members by raising topics of interest or posing thought-provoking questions for them to consider.

6. Address members by name as much as possible as a sign of respect.

7. Advocate for members as much as possible (giving them credit where appropriate, seeking their input, promoting their talents).

8. Track time throughout each segment of the meeting to ensure equity as well as to maintain focus (I went so far as to always use a timer).

9. Move with purpose; it conveys a higher level of energy rather than sitting  (I chose to stand and move at various points in the meeting).

10. Start with compelling words; end with inspiring words.

By the way, learning to facilitate is an excellent tool to build your public speaking.

Need to learn more…give me a call at 518-664-6004. Can’t wait to hear from you so we can create your reliable compass!

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