Are you gearing up to facilitate your next meeting? Whether you’re a seasoned expert looking to brush up on a few skills or a brand-new facilitator hoping to impress your teammates, this blog post is for you. In the following blog post, we will cover meeting facilitation best practices and techniques so you can facilitate your next meeting both confidently and efficiently. 

What is meeting facilitation? 

Facilitating a meeting is the act of ensuring the meeting runs smoothly, participants are engaged, and the conversation is on track. As the meeting facilitator, it’s your responsibility to guide the meeting in a way that heightens productivity and efficiency. Your main prerogative should be to host an inclusive meeting where all attendees feel comfortable enough to participate and collaborate to work towards obtaining a common goal. You can do this by creating a structured meeting agenda that encompasses timelines and conversation starters. 

Run delightful meetings

Make the best use out of everyone’s time by facilitating good conversation and having a collaborative meeting agenda with Fellow.

10 meeting facilitation best practices 

Facilitating a successful meeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 10 meeting facilitation best practices and techniques that you can leverage when facilitating your next meeting: 

1 Be assertive, not aggressive 

Being assertive is important, but it’s equally as important to not take it too far. Psychological safety is extremely important and if your assertive tendencies tend to lean towards being more dominant, intense, or aggressive, your teammates may not feel at ease while meeting with you. 

When teammates feel safe or at ease, they are more apt to engage and participate in team meetings. Psychological safety heightens your teammates’ ability and willingness to problem solve, collaborate, and engage. As the meeting facilitator, you have the power to help your teammates feel at ease and empowered. 

2 Create a meeting agenda 

Building a thorough meeting agenda is the key to facilitating a successful meeting. Not only does it help everyone in attendance stay on track, but it also acts as a set of guidelines for the facilitator as well as the attendees. The number one cause for a meeting that goes awry is not having an agenda. Gone are the days of attending a meeting with no purpose or being part of a meeting that runs 40 minutes past its end time. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting a company-wide meeting with tons of attendees or a weekly one-on-one meeting with one of your direct reports; hosting a meeting without a meeting agenda is a crucial mistake. Remember, no agenda, no attenda! If you’re about to facilitate a meeting without a meeting agenda, think twice. It’s important to step back and take the time to create and circulate an interactive meeting agenda. 

3 Set meeting ground rules 

Meeting ground rules act as a set of guidelines that attendees can follow to ensure maximum productivity. Ground rules can be extremely simple and may include points like muting when it isn’t your turn to speak, waiting to speak until called upon, showing up to the meeting on-time, or keeping your camera turned on to heighten the human-to-human experience for all involved. No matter your guidelines, they all exist to solve a common purpose: keeping everyone engaged and on track for the duration of the meeting. 

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to setting meeting ground rules or guidelines, you can start out by identifying what you deem to be respectful. From there, you can begin to flesh out guidelines that aim to uphold those values. 

4 Record decisions and action items 

Recording decisions and actions items is imperative, especially if you plan to reference the information at a later date. If you aren’t using the proper tools, recording decisions and action items can be clunky. Tools like Fellow make it extremely simple to streamline the process by enabling you to collaborate on meeting agendas, assign action items, and ask for meeting feedback in one easy-to-use tool that can be integrated directly into your browser or into existing tools that you’re already using on a daily basis. 

Additionally, Fellow empowers you, as the meeting facilitator, and your teammates to: 

·       Collaborate on meeting agendas and talking points 

·       Save or create meeting templates  

·       Assign clear action items and takeaways for every meeting 

·       Request feedback from meeting attendees 

5 Guide and control the meeting 

Every meeting has a host or meeting facilitator for a reason. Without one, the meeting would have no structure, and participants wouldn’t know where to turn. Best practices exist to help you improve so you can host successful meetings that leave everyone feeling educated and fulfilled. 

When determining which meeting facilitation best practices to leverage, you should focus on guiding and controlling the meeting. With a meeting agenda, the right attitude, and proper techniques, you’ll have no problem guiding your meetings and ensuring everyone stays on track. Before you know it, you will become an expert. 

6 Use parking lots 

Leveraging the parking lot technique is a great way to ensure your next meeting runs smoothly from start to finish. If you frequently notice your meetings go off topic or you have a hard time steering the conversation in the right direction, it may be time to implement the parking lot technique. 

Facilitation can be tricky if you don’t use the right techniques, but leveraging a parking lot essentially means that you will be able to park a certain topic or talking point and revisit it at a more appropriate time. The parking lot technique helps you save time and energy while ensuring your teammates are focused and on track. 

7 Balance participation 

Making sure that everyone feels seen and heard is imperative. In every meeting, there are normally a few people that feel extremely comfortable and as a result, they may dominate the conversation. As the host, you’re responsible for ensuring everyone has the opportunity to participate in the conversation. 

Balancing participation may seem difficult, but with a proper meeting agenda, you’ll have an easier time with this balance. If you notice that the same people are frequently talking too much during your team meetings, it may be time to intervene and address the issue. 

Facilitating inclusive meetings is the key to a happy and healthy team. Meeting management tools like Fellow enable you to create collaborative meetings so everyone can contribute not only to the present meeting, but also to the conversation at large. 

8 Ask leading questions 

Asking leading questions is a great way to prompt meaningful conversations. As the meeting host or facilitator, you are entirely responsible for making sure everyone in attendance contributes to the conversation. Asking leading questions is an easy way to guide the conversation while making sure everyone feels included and inclined to participate. 

9 Read the room 

One of the greatest attributes of any manager, leader, or meeting facilitator is the ability to think and act intuitively. If you can’t read the room, you won’t be able to captivate or maintain the attention of those in attendance. Reading the room entails reading energy levels and body language and noting when attendees may be distracted, disengaged, or uncomfortable. Actively reading the room during your meetings will enable you to lead engaging meetings that cater to the unique needs of each of your teammates. 

If you notice that those in attendance are disengaged, you can call on them to participate. If you notice a select few teammates are quiet and aren’t participating, you may want to call on them to speak on their area of expertise. Catering your approach to appeal to each of your teammates will ensure you’re meeting everyone’s needs. Psychological safety varies from person to person, and it’s your job to unlock what each of your teammates need to succeed during your team meetings. 

10 Summarize the takeaways 

Summarizing your takeaways is meeting etiquette 101. Not only does this summary enable you to keep track of key insights and action items, but it also acts as an informational hub for those that weren’t able to attend the meeting or those that may need to reference a piece of information in the future. 

Sending out a meeting recap or post mortem notes is also a great way to make sure everyone can reference the information from the meeting. Circulating the information post-meeting will remind everyone in attendance what was discussed so they can be reminded of significant announcements or action items. Sending out a meeting recap with key takeaways helps finalize everything while ensuring everyone is aware of key takeaways and future action items. 

Run your next meeting like a boss

If you’re new to facilitating meetings, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or even nervous. Luckily, these tips, tricks, and best practices are all you need to host and facilitate a successful meeting. Whether you’re facilitating a daily standup or a monthly company-wide roundtable, you’ll be able to host your next meeting like a boss with these meeting facilitation best practices.