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Keeping It Fresh

This lesson is a part of an audio course Facilitating High Performing Meetings by Ross Maynard

Facilitating a group to work through an issue or problem, develop improvement ideas and create a practical action plan is a great achievement, and you should be proud of yourself.

But that is not the end of it. As a facilitator, you need to support the group to monitor the implementation of the action plan, adapting it as necessary as circumstances change. And you need to keep up the momentum. But the problem is that the cycle of Business Meetings each month or more frequently can become monotonous.

Luckily, as a facilitator, there are things you can do to keep it fresh and interesting. Here are my tips:

  1. Focus on different aspects of performance in each meeting – rather than repeating the same routine. Review different areas of business processes and operational delivery or look at them from a different perspective. That way, the participants are always learning something new – keeping them engaged.

  2. Use the meeting every quarter or so to do a "deep dive" into some aspect of performance. Rather than looking at general business activity, focus on one particular area in detail.

  3. Vary the problem solving, analysis, and idea generation tools that you use in sessions to keep it fresh. There are loads of tools to try on the internet.

  4. Bring a "guest" expert to a meeting to contribute on particular aspects. For example, if customer service or delivery performance measures seem to be stagnating or declining, invite operational staff, the marketing team, or representatives of the delivery department to bring their first-hand experience and to contribute ideas.

  5. Use occasional sessions as development opportunities for the participants. Get one of the other members of the group to facilitate the meeting (give them support and coaching beforehand). Or get members of the group to take on roles during the session – for example, writing the flipcharts or running breakout sessions to review data or generate ideas.

  6. Consult your team. Use the "Even Better If" tool in the next section to help you develop more effective business meetings and get even better as a facilitator.

Evaluating and Improving Your Facilitation Skills

Sometimes sessions go badly. It's not necessarily anyone's fault: just that a number of negative factors happened to collide!

Sometimes sessions go brilliantly. You are not sure why: the stars just aligned for you!

You can develop your own skills to become a truly excellent facilitator by learning from your own performance as a facilitator, and by listening to the feedback of your colleagues. The "Even Better If" technique is a great way to draw out learning points to improve your sessions and is really easy to use.

All you need is a flipchart with four segments, or use a virtual flipchart on the screen in an online session. The four segments to discuss with the participants are:

  • What went well? What worked in the session? And what specific behaviours or activities contributed positively.

  • What should we do more of? What should we build on next time? What should we do more of in future sessions?

  • What should we do less of? What didn't particularly work this time? What specific behaviours or activities didn't contribute positively?

  • What would make the session even better? What activity would be really great if we could do it?

Ask everyone in the group to contribute. You can get them to fill in Post-It notes and stick them up in the relevant segments.

You don't have to do this exercise at the end of every meeting, but it is worth doing (say) quarterly.

Thank you for listening to this lesson. In our next lesson, we talk about giving feedback.

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Written by

Ross Maynard