Bill's Approach to Meeting Facilitation - Thorough Planning
A key advantage to outside facilitation is that the facilitator walks with a clean perspective. They aren't constrained by the history of the organization, the engrained group dynamics, or what hasn't worked in the past.
On the other hand, a drawback to using an outside facilitator is that they often don't understand the history of the organization, the group dynamics, or past efforts.
Bill takes the time to get to know your organization and the meeting's participants before the meeting. He believes that good meeting facilitation starts well before the meeting date.
Regardless of the type of meeting you are holding, Bill's approach will help you maximize results. This is possible because of the focused, detailed approach he takes to preparing for and executing your meeting and follow-up.
The starting point is discussions with the meeting manager or meeting committee to gain perspective on the organization, the purpose of the meeting, preliminary goals for the meeting, and the specific participants. Bill's experience as an investment analyst exposed him to hundreds of companies and taught him to ask the key questions to get to the heart of issues. These initial discussions provide the foundation for greater research.
Bill next provides an email for forwarding to each of the people who will be attending the meeting. He uses this email to introduce himself, provide an overview of the meeting, and explain that he will soon be in contact. The purpose of that contact will be to discuss and plan the agenda for the upcoming meeting. This is key —The Participants, through their input, help plan and structure the meeting. The result is a meeting that is more meaningful and productive for them.
At that point, he talks to as many of the individual participants as possible. This provides a broader awareness of issues, introduces him to the various personalities, and provides a perspective that even those within the organization may not have. These conversations are highly productive because they are open, honest, and confidential.
These interviews allow Bill to understand the breadth of opinions within the group and identify "hot" issues. It also enables him to see where consensus largely exists, sometimes unknown to the organization.
Organizations will frequently ask Bill to set the meeting agenda, including the order and time allotments for each item based on the participant interviews. Once the agenda has been prepared, it is finalized in conjunction with the meeting manager or meeting committee.
Bill then sends the meeting agenda and meeting details to the participants by email.
On the day of the meeting, Bill greets each participant at the door. For most participants, this is his fourth point of contact (initial email, conversation, final agenda email, and the personal greeting). This is important because it establishes a level of rapport before the meeting has even begun. The comfort and trust that develops sets the stage for open, honest dialogue during the meeting.
Note: If a meeting with group hugs, games, or songs is right for your group, Bill is not the right facilitator for you. Bill conducts professional business meetings. They can be fun and interesting, but the focus is on the productive use of the time available.
Bill will actively guide and participate in the meeting, offering the benefits and perspective of his extensive professional experience. His management experience combined with his leadership of your meeting will maximize your results.
Bill normally brings an assistant to document your meeting on an easel. This provides a running summary of meeting discussions and gathers information for inclusion in the post-meeting summary. Use of an assistant allows Bill to remain focused on the progress and development of the meeting. It also allows him to monitor the subtle body signals of the participants and be aware of any side conversations that may occur. In this way he is better able to manage the development of discussions and ensure that valuable input is brought forward to the group.
Importantly, experience has shown that taking leadership of a meeting out of the hands of an insider allows that person to participate in a more meaningful way. Sometimes that means they can have a more active voice in the discussions. Other times, that person may choose to take a less active role and let the larger group find its own way. In either case, it improves the outcome of the meeting.
Bill's meetings start and end on time. In between, there is flexibility built into the schedule to allow for more or less attention to particular agenda items depending on how the discussions are developing.
Discussions are coordinated and focused. Options are assessed. Decisions are made. Responsibilities are assigned. Timelines are set. Follow-up is defined.
Following the meeting, Bill prepares a meeting summary including discussion points, decisions, actions, responsibilities, timelines, and follow-up. This not only documents the results of the meeting, but also provides a tool for monitoring ongoing progress.
This entire process requires a significant commitment of time. Outsourcing it to Bill allows your own people to remain focused on what they do best.
While the approach outlined above is most typical of Bill's engagements, he is willing to work with you if you may have a preference for more, less, or different involvement.