Basics of facilitating skills
Facilitation is the act of guiding people throughout a process to reach a collaborative solution. People who possess facilitating skills have the knowledge and abilities to lead focused meetings that accomplish the intended objectives. Skilled facilitators plan meetings, ensure equal participation and remain unbiased while resolving issues. Become a strong facilitator by creating an environment for thoughtful conversations, encouraging honest feedback, listening to others, empowering your team members and combining multiple ideas into one resolution.
5 facilitating skills to build
Here are 5 skills that can help improve your ability to effectively facilitate a meeting:
- Encourage participation
- Empower your team members
- Build strong working relationships
- Implement conflict resolution strategies
- Provide guidance
Leaders who foster an inclusive environment and encourage everyone to participate develop stronger business plans. When everyone is able to provide feedback before plans are developed, they benefit employees at all levels, not just leaders. Encourage participation before your meeting by ensuring participants have access to any materials beforehand. Allow ample time during the meeting for everyone to share their opinions, and invite anyone who isn’t speaking to share their ideas.
Empower your team members
Build trust, respect and loyalty with your team members by empowering them to conduct their own research, write proposals and collaborate in sub-committees to reach a strong business plan. When people feel empowered at work, they have more confidence to share their ideas, which leads to the creation of new processes through collaboration. Allow your employees to brainstorm ideas before the meeting, and designate specific topics that they need to cover.
Build strong working relationships
Taking time to understand who your team members are on a personal and professional level creates a rapport and build trust. When you have a strong working relationship with your team, they have an increased sense of loyalty to you and the business. Understanding your employees’ strengths gives you the ability to leverage their unique talents and interests in growing your business.
Implement conflict resolution strategies
People may disagree on ideas or the best way to solve a particular issue, but a strong facilitator can act as a mediator to resolve conflicts. Remaining impartial and asking questions to understand the root cause of the conflict is an important skill for an effective facilitator. They keep everyone calm and give each side the opportunity to explain their ideas and work to reach a compromise or suggest alternatives.
A strong facilitator identifies when people need assistance and understands what kind of guidance they can provide. Guiding employees to achieve their own resolution instead of giving a definitive answer empowers your employees to learn how to solve challenges on their own. During a meeting, facilitators guide participants to reach a collective conclusion by asking questions and making suggestions.
Best practices for effective facilitating
Facilitating a meeting involves planning, conducting and following up with necessary attendees. Here are some best practices to follow while executing each portion of the meeting:
Plan the meeting
Preparing for a meeting ensures that you cover all the necessary topics and have relevant materials ready. Begin by asking attendees to advise topics they would like to cover during the meeting, then build an agenda.
Find a suitable meeting location for the number of attendees and the right equipment. If you have a presentation, check that the room has a screen or the correct equipment.
Determine how you plan to take notes at the meeting. Ask a participant to take notes to share with others, or record the meeting so anyone who was unable to attend can watch it later.
Conduct the meeting
Start your meeting on time. Begin by briefly reviewing the topic and agenda. If you have designated certain team members to lead each agenda item, turn the meeting over to them once you review the basics.
Ensure each agenda item is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and the decision is documented before moving forward. Watch the time carefully so you can address each topic on the agenda. If the meeting gets off-topic, it’s your responsibility to guide the group back to the focus of the meeting.
Conclude your meeting by summarizing any decisions made and required follow-up actions. Designate a person to be responsible for handling any post-meeting issues that arise.
After the meeting, share any documents or presentations that may be beneficial for the team members, including notes and recordings. Make sure team members know how to handle their follow-up tasks, and check in with them occasionally to provide guidance if needed.
Facilitating skills FAQ
Here’s a common question about developing effective facilitating skills:
Are there any facilitation tools I can use?
There are many tools and techniques you can use to encourage collaboration and brainstorming. If you schedule additional time, start your meeting with an icebreaking game to get attendees to interact with one another. Create a list of questions and suggestions to use throughout a meeting to get team members to consider a new perspective.
Some common questions that you can ask your team members include:
- What resources do you have?
- Who will this decision affect?
- How long would you need to finish the project?
- Where does that fit into our objectives?