The many benefits of a great meeting facilitator

February 7, 2023
Most meetings won't require an outside facilitator - but they can be highly useful for certain crucial meetings where the subject matter and outcome is high in priority and value.

Feel like you're always in a meeting? You're not alone. Research shows that the average person spends around 16 hours in meetings each week. Over a year, this works out to more than 800 hours, or almost 35 full 24-hour days!

A lot of the time is wasted too. Over a career, the average worker sits through 9,000 hours of needless meetings. That's a year and ten days!

A great meeting facilitator can help your meetings go from boring boardroom to dynamic discussion, ensuring you leave the room aligned, energised and ready to make things happen. A facilitator can help you improve the way you identify and solve problems and make decisions.

There are many reasons for holding a meeting, for example setting goals, making decisions, defining roles, making plans, building consensus and alignment. And there are many things that get in the way of a good meeting too - it's a meeting facilitator's job to help you avoid meeting blockers and successfully deal with difficult situations.

Everything is tailored to you - a meeting facilitator will work closely with you to understand your team dynamics and the nuances of your project, designing and running your meeting so you get the end result that works best for everyone.

Setting the ideal outcome and agenda

Most meetings won't require an outside facilitator - but they can be highly useful for certain crucial meetings where the subject matter and outcome is high in priority and value. The best meetings focus on just one or two issues - an important topic with clear outcomes will engage everyone attending to bring their best attention and performance to the meeting.

The best place to start is by working with you to get very clear on the meeting's aims and outcomes. What are the goals of the meeting? What is it ultimately for? What will the meeting enable to happen?

We then consider the participants. Why should people be there? What's in it for them? What should they do in advance of the meeting? Is everyone clear on the desired outcomes? Does everyone have a clear sense of their role within the meeting? A good meeting facilitator will work with you to clarify all these elements to help them prepare the meeting effectively.

At the meeting's close, it's important to have a clear summary of the results and next steps. Were the goals for the meeting achieved? What are the next actions? Who is doing what? It's important to aim for a clear, positive outcome at the close of every meeting.

A meeting facilitator can also provide a concise write-up of the meeting including all subsequent actions and responsibilities.

Information & analysis meetings

Getting together to analyse, digest and make sense of complex information can be highly rewarding and instructive in terms of helping teams generate ideas, formulate strategies and develop shared approaches.

A meeting facilitator can work with you to ensure information is presented in an effective way, so participants can understand it quickly and identify patterns, opportunities and insights.

A facilitator can also design activities to spark discussion and analysis of key themes and sources.

Goal setting and planning meetings

Teams who work together on shared goals are far more likely to hit their targets than those who don't. If everyone knows what they're working on together, everyone is able to make confident, purposeful steps in the knowledge that they are working on a valuable shared project and they have the trust and support of others.

Setting goals as a group gets you aligned and motivated from the start: if everyone feels involved in the early stages of group projects, they are much more likely to feel invested in making it a success in the long-term.

Effective group goal setting can also result in more challenging, ambitious goals - as team members build on each other's ideas and realise the potential of their collective strengths.

A meeting facilitator can help you and your team set ambitious, meaningful goals that they can all get behind, and make sound plans for achieving those goals.

Decision-making meetings

Meeting excess is largely down to an inability to make effective decisions. Meetings have become a stalling tactic to avoid tough decisions, and individuals outside organisations are terrified of making decisions, so they call meetings instead. Those meetings turn into more meetings and the cycle is often never-ending. A meeting facilitator can help you break the cycle and make decisions you can be confident in.

One of the key ingredients in an effective decision-making meeting is to ensure all the available information has been gathered, distributed and digested prior to the meeting. Another is to articulate to the group why they are coming together to make a decision. What will the decision lead to and why is it important? Who has ultimate responsibility and sign-off?

Once you have all these things in place, your group can weigh up all the data, opinions, predictions and after-effects to formulate the best outcome.

A meeting facilitator can do this by helping you think objectively about the issue at hand. This is important because the psychology of decision-making isn't as straightforward and rational as we like to think. In fact, much of our decision-making is shaped by hidden biases - such as confirmation bias, availability bias, groupthink and stereotypes - which sometimes leads us to make grave errors.

Consensus building and alignment meetings

When you need all members of the group to reach agreement on roles, goals, team projects or decisions, we can help you come together to find solutions that everyone actively supports.

It's important that all members of the group are able to express their needs and viewpoints clearly. The meeting facilitator will ensure the flow of the meeting, so that everybody participates and feels comfortable doing so. A facilitator will respect the hierarchy but will strive to put everyone on a level playing field, so you get the most from each participant.

The facilitator will help make sure that all views, opinions and concerns are taken into account, making the most of the group strengths and shared purpose to make concrete plans for progress. This is the ultimate win-win: the best possible solution and a united team supporting it.

Let’s set up a meeting!

Love them or hate them, teams wouldn’t get far without meetings. They’re an essential element of collaboration, and a good meeting can work wonders – it can get a team pulling in the right direction, clear on group goals and roles.

Meetings are also important social locations for many teams. These shared rituals allow for group bonding and social interaction, where colleagues work together in the truest sense, all mutually responsible for the success of the group and its goals.

So – let’s set up a meeting to discuss your next meeting!

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