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Facilitation Focuses Meeting

Although many people may not think of meeting facilitation specifically by name, most will instinctively and unconsciously recognize the role it plays in any successful meeting. A meeting is essentially the organization of a number of minds and viewpoints in one location where topics can be debated and discussed. Many meetings involve voting on issues, making key decisions, or reaching some kind of consensus. At any rate, whenever everyone's participation is desired and expected at a meeting, the logistics can be tricky because of the many varying voices, viewpoints, and ideas. Meeting facilitation, actually more simple than it sounds, can really be beneficial and help a meeting proceed more smoothly and effectively.

Meeting Facilitation Encourages Success

Meeting facilitation centers on the idea of bringing all the attendees or participants together in such a way that they can work and discuss constructively. In large meetings, trying to get anything done without a facilitator can be counterproductive because everyone has his or her own biases and no one is ultimately in control. Especially in meetings where controversial issues are discussed, it can be difficult to maintain control and positive flow of conversation during the meeting if no one is objectively overseeing the process.

Meeting facilitation starts with choosing someone to be the facilitator who will control the direction and agenda of the meeting. It usually works best if this person is not only non-biased but also not involved in the discussion in any way because then he or she can better relate to all participants in an objective, unemotional way. For this reason, meeting facilitators are often outsiders, chosen because they have no relationship to the topics under consideration or the participants.

Ice-breakers, though many view them as silly games, actually have a real purpose in meeting facilitation. This is often the first step when beginning a meeting because it allows participants who are unfamiliar with each other to have an opportunity to get to know each other and it opens up initial dialogue. By breaking the tension and establishing some sort of fledgling relationship, icebreakers enable everyone involved to contribute more productively with less tension and stress. An important role of the meeting facilitator is to organize the thoughts of the group and ensure that the group does not get distracted on an off-topic tangent. By creating a visual record through notes or diagrams, the facilitator can help participants see the direction in which they are proceeding and help keep them focused toward reaching a decision or consensus.

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