Facilitation means "to make easy," but most of the time, facilitating meetings and conversations feels like a daunting task. It can be intimidating to be expected to have all of the answers, capture discussion, and keep that same conversation going all at once. However, our team knows that facilitators don't have to have all of the answers or talk more than everyone else. In fact, it is often best when a facilitator does the opposite.
The following are six best practices that can be used when facilitating a meeting or conversation.
1. Embrace the silence
For most, silence is awkward and unwanted, but during crucial conversations, it is important to embrace and find comfort in it, giving participants the time to process and develop answers.
2. Use the experts already in the room
The great thing about people is that we all bring different experiences, perspectives, and ideas to the table. When we recognize that we don't have to be the expert, it allows other people to share their own ideas, knowledge, and expertise. At People Centric, we know we can't tell accountants how to run an accounting firm or publishing companies how to run a magazine, but we do know how to ask the right questions and get teams to use each other to solve problems.
3. Move with a purpose
Moving around the room cultivates engagement and attention from all of the participants, including those sitting in the back of the room.
4. Pay attention to body posture and non-verbal communication
It is extremely helpful to identify the people who scoot their chair back, cross their arms, or lean into the conversation. This triggers people to ask different questions or strategically explore how to move the conversation forward to meet the needs of the people in the meeting.
5. Encourage everyone to participate
Everyone should have a voice in the conversation. A simple trick to encourage participation is to have everyone say a closing remark at the end of the conversation.
6. Let the team lead
While a facilitator is usually the person standing in the front of the room, the team or participants are the people who should take ownership of the discussion and solve their own problems.
Facilitation doesn't have to be a long, complicated process. We encourage you to simply use it as a time to listen to people, capture information, and see where good questions and outside insight can take the team.
To join our conversation on facilitation and tune up your management and leadership skills, join us at our upcoming Management Seminar.