If the ultimate goal of your campaign is organising with people or working in a team, learning how to facilitate effective meetings as a team is essential.
Good facilitation in a meeting can:
A poorly facilitated meeting can dissuade new supporters or volunteers from joining an event or assisting with your campaign in the future.
To facilitate a meeting well, you must first understand the group's desired outcome, and the background and context of the meeting or event. With the group's objective clear, you can then structure the event and select the best tools to reach your outcome.
1. Plan Your Structure And Goals
2. Create Your Agenda
3. Guide your event
4. Record decisions and set Action Points
5. Follow Up
Before facilitating a meeting, think about who is coming to the meeting, how many people will attend, what your time limitations are and what the expected outcomes are. Will the event be in person or online?
Before the meeting, make sure to send the agenda well in advance and check who is attending the event. If the meeting is in person, set up the space so that people know where to go. If it is online, make sure the link is working and that people respond to your calendar invitation. The best way to ensure attendance from volunteers is by sending personalised text messages out on the day of the event and asking if they will be coming to the event or meeting.
A solid agenda focuses on outcome, creating connections between the participants and having a flow. When planning it, consider the following:
With the agenda and group process in place, it's time to think about how you'll guide and control the proceedings. The following techniques can be used by you as the facilitators during meetings to assist groups in accomplishing their objectives:
Remaining Neutral: The facilitator must focus on the “process” role and avoid the temptation to offer an opinion on the topic under discussion. A facilitator who becomes involved in the content discussion must let the group know that he or she is stepping out of the facilitator role.They can say “I’m taking my facilitator hat off for this part of the meeting / I’m putting my facilitator hat back on”.
Set the norms: these could include to respect everyone's contribution, to let only one person speak at a time, and to avoid disparaging comments. Asking the group to contribute some ideas for norms can also be a good way to get buy-in from them and make them feel more comfortable.
Set the scene: Run through the objectives and agenda. Make sure that everyone understands their role, and what the group is seeking to achieve.
Relationships: Create relationships between attendees, or perhaps use appropriate icebreakers to get the meeting off to a positive start.
Keep up the momentum and energy: You might need to intervene as the proceedings and energy levels proceed. Make sure that people remain focused and interested. If energy levels are beginning to flag, perhaps it's time to take a break.
Time check: make sure you’re keeping on time as the facilitator, and it can be a good idea to regularly give participants an idea of how long remains before the next break to keep them motivated.
Breakout Groups: Some groups can be too large to enable in-depth discussion. For example, in a one-hour discussion session involving 100 people, many participants would not be able to share their thoughts. Depending on the nature of the issue, the facilitator may decide to break a large group into smaller groups of 5 to 20 participants. These groups usually “report” back to the larger group to share the results of their discussion or any decisions made. .
Knowledge Polling: Knowledge polling is gauging what the knowledge levels in the group are on a certain issue or topic being discussed. Knowledge polling allows you to work out what should be emphasised in a discussion, and what could be skipped. Knowledge polling can be done in a number of ways. You could ask people to put up fingers from one to three, with one being no knowledge and three being a lot of knowledge and ask them to rank themselves.
Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing is a useful tool to wrap up discussions that may be going on for too long. Paraphrasing involves repeating what has been said to let participants know what has been understood and to clarify their points.
Summarising: Summarising is a useful facilitation tool to wrap up a discussion.
Synthesising: At times, two or more people can have ideas that appear to be different or at odds with one another. Good facilitators are able to synthesise ideas that may seem at odds, but have more in common than is described.
Boomeranging: Participants will often be put into a position of power to answer questions, direct the group and resolve conflict. A good way to remain neutral and gain collective knowledge and solutions is through ‘boomeranging’.
It’s important that the facilitator records any decisions and then moves the group towards action and outputs. The key to successful recording of outputs from an event is to be clear about what will be recorded, how and by whom.
Make sure that people's responsibilities are 100 percent clear, whether they are yours or others' involved.
So, make sure participants hear, see and understand the information presented. Keep an accurate record of what's going on.
Record all decisions and actions. You may want to enlist a note taker so that you can focus on the group. It's a good idea to take photos of brainstorming notes, or use collaborative whiteboard apps.
After the meeting, make sure to follow up on the action points and agenda listed out. You can do this by sending the notes and the action points through an internal communication tool used for your team.
Facilitator’s should have an arsenal of tools to intervene when a person at a meeting becomes disruptive or if discussions get too heated.
Problematic behaviour that interrupts the agenda can be when:
The facilitator's goal should be to minimise these interruptions by de-escalating conflict or getting the meeting back on track. The facilitator can either:
If you decide to intervene as the facilitator, here are some tools that can help you get your meeting back on track:
Restating the Purpose When a meeting gets off track, the facilitator can pause and remind the group to reconsider why they have come together today. The facilitator may say, “I sense this issue is important to the group, but the purpose of our meeting today is ______ ______ , so would it be okay to table this discussion until a later time?”
3-Step Intervention to Deal with Disruptive Behaviours If there is one person who is particularly disruptive in the meeting, there is a three step solution they can use to deal with the issue:
Labeling Sidetracks You should let the group know when it gets off track. If the issue is important, you can make a note of this to be discussed later after the agenda has been wrapped up or at the next meeting.
Mirroring You can periodically reflect how the group energy or dynamic is looking and bring about solutions with the group to work out how to move forward. For example:
Having a good facilitator for your meetings - particularly if it is a meeting bringing together a new team or new volunteers to a campaign or party - is essential for teamwork and productivity. All members of a team should practice their facilitation skills.
There are five key steps to being a good facilitator. That is having a plan of the meeting with a goal in mind, creating an agenda, guiding your event, recording the decisions, setting action points and following up.
A good facilitator will have a number of tools under their belt to intervene in a meeting that might have disruptive or problematic behaviour. Learning these tools can ensure a meeting sticks towards your agenda, allows people to collaborate and ultimately bring you closer to your goals.
Last updated: June 2022