In last week’s post What to do before the meeting begins – 4 added-value ideas from great chair persons and facilitators we’ve worked with we shared 4 great techniques we’ve picked up from experienced chairpersons and facilitators during meeting facilitation seminars. This post keeps sharing the sharing. As trainers, we get to listen to and learn from our clients – and then you get to benefit from not only our knowledge and experience, but their’ s too! So here are 5 easy-to-implement ideas to make you an even better chair or facilitator AND make your meetings that much more effective.
Making the time to debrief the process
Taking the time after the meeting to talk about how the meeting went means you can continually improve not just your skills, but the effectiveness and efficiency of your meetings too. Debriefing is all about identifying behaviours to maintain and things to do differently during the following meetings – and top performing teams take the time to reflect. You could integrate it into your agenda or agree upon reflection intervals. My own experience is that immediacy is better. When asked to think about the last e.g. 6 meetings, people too often tend to either focus on the last 1 or 2 events, or speak in broad and vague generalizations that are more difficult to act upon.
Sending out minutes – each time, every time, always, no excuses, better late than never
Whether they be formal or informal, an executive summary or agenda-based, action-oriented minutes or verbatim, it’s a good idea to write them and send them out! Great chair persons understand and commit to always having minutes. They don’t approach them with a “we have proof” mentality – but rather with a “building” and “commitment” mentality. And they also give people an opportunity to review and add to the minutes. But they have them.
Planning in “I should have said” time
People are wonderfully different – and this means that not everyone is going to contribute equally in your meetings. It could simply be shyness, or perhaps an issue of interpersonal dynamics or politics. More often than not it could be that an idea or opinion wasn’t fully formed and the person chose to think it through before speaking (especially if they have what the MBTI refers to as an “Introvert” preference). It’s too easy (and destructive) to take a “If you don’t say it in the meeting you lost your chance”. Plan time after the meeting is over so participants who need time to reflect can have a chance to share their insights. This also helps to build trust.
Taking the time for tête-à-têtes
Connected to the above, planning in time after the meeting for a tête-à-tête (literally a head to head discussion) also gives you an opportunity to
- make apologies (or gives somebody an opportunity to make them)
- reflect on behaviours
- ask for a recommitment to ground rules
- clarify confusion
- resolve conflicts
- ask for and receive feedback,
- check resources
- gauge true level of commitment to tasks
… plus a hundred other things which are best done on a one-to-one basis. It’s not politicking – it’s about building authentic relationships.
Planning in check-ins to review commitments and accountability
If people have had the chance to share their opinions and ideas and robustly discuss options in your meting then you can expect real commitment to the agreed action. And if people have committed then you can hold them accountable. Great chair persons explicitly review the commitments at the end of the meeting AND they follow up later on. When they follow up they have an “inquisitive” and “supportive” approach. They understand that things may have changed since the meeting, that priorities may have shifted and that resources may have been over-estimated or diverted. But they follow up.
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