Successful facilitators are made, not born. They use the skills and techniques they have honed throughout their careers to help businesses run effective meetings and achieve their goals and objectives. A professional facilitator knows running a meeting is easy; running a good meeting, however, is not.
When you have a group of people in a room, anything can happen. Some people will dominate the meeting, while others won’t say a word; a few will stick to the issues at hand, many more will go off tangent. Experienced facilitators know how to control a meeting without deciding its outcome; how to follow an agenda while accommodating discourse; how to build consensus without alienation.
Below are some characteristics all top-notch facilitators develop to professional perfection in order to succeed.
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Meeting facilitators make it their business to know your business. They familiarize themselves with your line of work, the typical issues and concerns, etc. in order to direct and guide the discussion intelligently.
Successful facilitators are sensitive to the needs of each individual as well as to the chemistry of the group. They know how to build an atmosphere of trust that invites dialogue and equal participation. Their goal is for the group to work towards a real consensus where every point of view is genuinely considered and carefully weighed.
Sometimes participants need prodding; at other times they need to be reminded to give others a chance to contribute. An experienced group facilitator knows when to jump in, wait, bring a session to a close, or let the discussion continue.
No one can anticipate, nor be able to prevent, everything that can go wrong during facilitation. That’s why it’s important for facilitators to have the ability to think on their feet. When warranted, they must be able to switch direction and accommodate changes quickly and smoothly without jeopardizing the process.
A Sense of Humor
Effective facilitators know how to keep the mood light without being silly; how to put participants at ease without the session turning into a three-ring circus.