Kevin Fong - Organizational Design
Fundamentals of Facilitation – Before and After
 
A well facilitated meeting with thoughtful planning and follow-up can set a tone of unity, respect and efficiency long after the meeting is over.  Last week, I was reminded of this fact when I went to curriculum night at Rafael’s school where the parents got to meet the teachers and experience what happens in the classroom.  Given the fact that the teachers only had ten minutes to win our trust and deliver a lucid presentation while being personable and professional was a tall order.  I found that the teachers who were most successful invested the time and thought into the preparation and follow-up.
 
So what does a facilitator do before and after a meeting? A rule of thumb in facilitation is to consider the length of the meeting and add an equal amount to factor in prep and follow-up.  Thus a one-hour meeting would require two hours of a facilitator’s time.
 
It may seem like an unreasonable time commitment, but consider the return on your investment.  A poorly planned and facilitated meeting can lead to adverse ramifications for weeks or even months after.  Likewise, a well-run meeting with little or no follow-up results in a skeptical team. So if you want to improve your chances for success, consider implementing the following steps before the meeting -
  • Consult with key people to develop the agenda and get the appropriate approvals and buy-in. 
  • Take time to plan the agenda and frame your messages.  This includes mapping out and preparing any handouts, presentations and activities. (for more information on developing an agenda, please read our previous newsletter at www.elementalpartners.net/elemental-news)
  • Check in with your presenters to make sure they are prepared, know what is expected of them, and any requests for equipment are noted.
  • Allow ample time to arrive early to prep the space and test the equipment.  This may consist of 10-minutes if the space is familiar to you and the equipment needs are minimal, or up to 30 minutes if there is more involved set-up and equipment needs.  One helpful hint is not to set a meeting time at 9:00 if that’s when your day begins.  Set it for 9:15 to give people time to get settled and you the time to prep the space.
  • Also allow time to prepare yourself.  A quiet moment, a walk around the office or a quick review of your materials.  Make sure you’re grounded and centered.
 
Likewise, what a facilitator does after a meeting is just as important as what she does before and during the meeting.  Factor in at least 15-30 minutes immediately after the meeting to:
  • Check in with yourself and key people (how did the meeting go?  What worked?  What needs to change?)
  • Straighten up the space.
  • Go back to your desk and send out follow-up emails/memos to folks who committed to do things after the meetings.  This last piece is a crucial step in determining the effectiveness of any meeting.  Even if it is a quick list of next steps, get it typed and sent immediately after the meeting.  More formal minutes, as necessary can follow later. 
 
A facilitator who invests the time in good preparation and follow-up sets a tone of care and respect for the participants which will be reciprocated long after the meeting has ended.  And thanks to the teachers who took the time and thought to prepare for curriculum night, I am confident that Rafael’s education is in good hands.
 
 
Stay tuned for the next article which will address what happens when things fall apart during a meeting.
 
ps-  all of the previous articles can now be found at our website: www.elementalpartners.net/elemental-news
 

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