Facilitating Group Meetings 101
Group meetings are an essential part of any group, company, or organization that involves more than two people. Ensuring your team is working on one accord, brainstorming new ideas and reinforcing company practices are just some of the reasons meetings are an important part of operations. Let’s take a look at how you can successfully facilitate meetings for groups of any size.
Coordinate a Perfect Time
Coordinating a perfect time to host your meeting is step one on our meeting 101 list because letting meeting attendees choose a time that works best for them is a great way to ensure you have a productive group meeting. Make a poll to learn which time your meeting should take place. By doing this you won’t have to worry about someone not being able to make it because they have to do school pick-ups or another person being tied up with a previous engagement. Giving meeting attendees a time choice will also make them feel respected and in control. A polite and simple gesture like making a poll can heavily contribute to your meeting’s success.
Check-In with Attendees
Beginning your group meeting with a quick check-in will encourage your attendees to relax and focus. Simply ask everyone how they’re doing or if they have anything on their minds before jumping into your meeting agenda. Starting with an ice breaker will not only break the ice but also make your attendees feel important and cared for. Meetings are most productive when everyone involved feels valued and needed.
While facilitating meetings you should provide attendees with important roles to create communal responsibility within your group meeting. A facilitator may want to ask attendees to take notes or keep the time. Another great role for attendees that is simple and low-pressure is asking them to think of a unique welcome or dismissal for your meeting. Rotate roles for recurring meetings and allow others to participate in your meeting, as often as possible. After all, if you’re hosting a group meeting that means that you need the entire involvement of the group to reach a successful end goal.
During a group meeting, the facilitator should never be the only person who speaks during the entire session. Practice active listening with your meeting attendees and carefully absorb their words. After attentively listening, give feedback and confirmation to the speaker and assure them that you’ve understood what they’ve said or ask them for clarification if you did not.
If you want to have a successful meeting, listening is an incredibly important step on our meeting 101 list. If your meeting attendees feel unheard, more than likely, they will zone out and become uninterested - leading to an unproductive time for everyone involved. Group meetings should not be dictator sessions, they should be learning experiences with multiple opportunities given to voice different opinions.
Tying into point four, taking turns letting meeting attendees speak is something you should also do while facilitating meetings. If there are multiple participants who want to speak at the same time, quickly jot down their names and let each person speak, one at a time. If you’re hosting a virtual meeting, most platforms will have a “raise hand” feature. Encouraging attendees to use this feature will give you quick access to the names of everyone who would like to speak.
Narrow it Down
During natural human interactions, we tend to effortlessly stray from one point to the next during a conversation. While this is okay during brunch or spending time with friends, it’s completely counterproductive during a group meeting.
Avoid waiting time by keeping your meeting topics straight and narrow. Make your topics clear at the very beginning of your meeting and announce when you’re moving from one point to the next. You can make your meeting inclusive by making a poll and asking participants to voice which topics they think should be discussed.
Tying into point number six, having a written meeting agenda prior to the start of your group meeting is highly recommended. Even if you have an outstanding memory and feel like you don’t need a physical meeting agenda, we still recommend having one. An agenda will ensure you stay focused during your group meeting.
Having a physical or digital agenda is also a great tool to distribute to all of your meeting attendees. Everyone will know all of the discussion points ahead of time and have an opportunity to prepare their talking points in advance.
Pause and allow yourself and meeting attendees a chance to reflect on everything that was just discussed. During group meetings, a lot of information is dished out. Give the brain a moment to digest and process everything that it’s just received.
After silent reflection, encourage your participants to write down their thoughts, identify concerns or ask any questions. This simple exercise will help both yourself and the participants to internalize all of your topics, as well as, the overall cause of the meeting itself.
While some group members may be less vocal than others, their voices are equally important. As a facilitator, you should encourage participation from all of your meeting attendees. Create a safe space and draw people out of their shells by asking low-pressure questions like, “What do you think?” Or “Are you considering any other ideas?”
Dividing group meeting attendees into small groups is another way to encourage participation in shy team members. A smaller group may allow them to relax a bit. After breaking off into small groups, bring everyone back into the full group and ask for conversation highlights from a team leader. By doing this, your more soft-spoken team member will still be heard, without the anxiety of actually having to speak in front of a large group.
We hope that our meeting 101 points will help you to successfully facilitate your group meeting. Check out our site to learn more about making polls for all of your meeting needs. Cheers to productivity, achieving goals and new bright ideas!