How to Facilitate a Meeting with Confidence
Have you been entrusted with managing a new project or coordinating a weekly meeting? How do you take the lead to ensure you get the respect you deserve?
You may not have been trained in the disciplines of leadership or facilitation – but there are a few reliable strategies that when used effectively will demonstrate you’re in charge.
Here are our top 5:
1) Establish credibility ahead of time
To establish your credibility, you need to be prepared – and nothing says “prepared” like an agenda. It communicates that you mean business, and that the meeting will be held specifically to move work forward, not waste anyone’s time.
Be sure to outline your objectives, provide attendees with a clear purpose, and use professional online meeting software. This will make sure they fully understand why they have been selected to participate and make you look highly professional.
2) Limit the number of participants
More people does not equate to better decisions – studies show that once you have seven people in a group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.
Review your list of attendees, then ask yourself if each person needs to be there. If you don’t invite one or two of them, you’ll be saving time for everyone.
3) Project CONFIDENCE!
Lead the meeting as if you’ve done it a hundred times (even if it’s your first). Respond to any intimidating behavior or interruptions quickly and confidently. Use eye contact if you’re in the same room with attendees, and convey strong body language.
Keep in mind – it’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say it. Is your voice high pitched and nasal, or resonate and commanding? A little practice beforehand will go a long way in making sure you capture and keep people’s attention.
4) Facilitate with authority
Facilitation is an art unto itself, so study up on the fundamentals. For the purpose of this article, we’ll stick to the highlights.
During the meeting:
- Focus on the objectives and use a finite time schedule.
- Start and stop on time.
- Assign a notetaker to document important takeaways.
- Make sure the agenda is followed.
- Guide the discussion forward.
The facilitator’s role is not to do for others – they are there to help move a group toward accomplishing its goals.
5) Stay calm if conflict arises
Eventually, you will likely face conflict during a meeting. Strong personalities can dominate a discussion, and you need to know how to diffuse heated situations.
Make sure to encourage debate, yet also emphasize common areas of understanding and keep participants focused on the outcome.
If the conversation becomes too intense, it’s your responsibility to interrupt and ask a team member to get to the point. Once they’ve said their piece, direct everyone’s attention away by asking a more calm team member a direct question.
Mastering how to facilitate a meeting with confidence can help improve team communication, move a project towards completion, and establish you as a true leader. Seize the opportunity and do it well.
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