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Facilitating from the Side

  • How often are you in rambling meetings or meetings that are not focused?
    • If you're in a meeting that's not well run, look around the room, is everybody else "showing signs" that's it's going badly?
    • Are you or everybody else wondering why you are there?
    • Learn to recognize the signs
    • That's your chance to step in - facilitating from the side; help to get meeting back on track
    • Ask clarifying questions from a place of humility:
      • I'm just a bit confused
      • maybe I missed this in the e-mail
      • what is it we're trying to get to
      • at the end of the meeting you would like to have...,
      • and that means you want us to,
      • help you do this,
      • let me clarify this
    • set the goal, agenda, define the role of the participants
      • can I write them down? do you mind if I put that on the whiteboard?
      • if you have the pens then you kinda run the meeting
      • start offering activities to help,
        • you would like to get our input,
        • just so I know could you let me know what's in scope and out of scope,
        • agenda bash to put ideas on the whiteboard,
        • what do we want to talk about 1st,
        • sticky note exercise,
        • go around
    • I thought we'd review this document (that wasn't sent beforehand) - ask to postpone meeting
      • should we break out into small groups?
      • Structure and purpose of the document
      • Be clear on what it is people are doing
        • So who else had comments on X?
        • So what does this do?
        • Broker the conversation;
        • i didn't see anything about X, did anyone else have the same view?
      • Asking questions but structuring how it's going to happen
    • Be a time keeper for the meeting; start to provide time checks; there's 5 mins left should we start talking about next steps?
    • Can we take this away and read it? Use Google docs for team collaboration
    • Offer to help capture notes
    • Remember the goal and keep the meeting focused
      • Eg. move the "parking lot" outside the meeting room; "we're going to take that out of the room"
    • By asking questions what you end up with: goals for the meeting, defined the roles of the participants, define outcomes, scoped the conversations, developed a process by which we'll get there by suggesting activities, capture notes, provide time checks, push towards next steps , follow up afterwards
    • PROPER meeting guidelines, purpose, objectives
  • Lenses:
    • Political Lens: who's meeting it is, who's in the room
    • Cultural Lens: how does this team/group work, are you the outsider
    • Control Lens: strong command and control structure, top down hierarchy,
    • is it worth your investment, is the meeting salvageable, are you going to be the facilitator for the next meetings, do you worry about your capital/cost/reputation
    • in political meetings you may be meeting with people above your pay grade, you may be nervous about it, come from humility makes it softer
  • check framework for feedback
    • Reflect on how your facilitation from the side went/worked
    • Did you get what you wanted
    • Offering to help plan and run meetings
    • what are people going to get out of it, what's their role, what are they contributing, what are you going to get out of it
  • agenda items: why is this here, what is it doing, what is it are you really going to get from it
  • Table talk
    • it's an easier conversation to have face to face rather than Zoom
    • How to deal with detractors to a meeting; use facilitation techniques for effective meetings
    • use architects to take notes
    • Take notes in a public space where they can be seen; having a 2nd person in the room is also very useful
    • how to solicit feedback from persons not speaking up or perhaps shy or introvert; use sticky note exercises, write your top 3 ideas down, 1-2 for all, private-pair public, shift and comment
  • Go around (for next meeting/topic): have someone to bring you back on track when you start breaking the rules, takes practice to from a judgement on whether to lean in harder or less

Homework: Which of the following are you going to commit to to doing in your next unfocused meeting?

  • Clarifying questions
  • Time check

Try this in journal - record the results of your efforts


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