Becoming a Facilitation Rockstar | Top Tips and Tricks from Evans Consulting
For some, the idea of facilitating a team meeting or an all hands can feel as daunting as singing in front of a stadium full of people. It can be scary to lead small or large group discussions. It might make your heart race and your palms sweat. You might have feelings of imposter syndrome or be nervous about managing executives to help keep the agenda on track. Or you may simply be anxious because you’re new to the team or organization. Whatever your challenge, if you follow these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to provide captivating customer experiences and become a facilitation rockstar!
Focus on the Purpose and Desired Outcome
One of the first steps in facilitation rock stardom is to know your audience and what they hope to achieve in the meeting. Having this information allows you to tailor your agenda and presentation to the audience, thereby achieving the desired outcome. Remember, it’s ok to interject– in fact, it’s part of your job as a facilitator to ask clarifying questions, summarize key points, and capture actions. As the facilitator, you want to ensure everyone is on the same page, knows how to move forward, and has learned the lyrics by heart.
Identify Design Considerations
These days, a virtual or hybrid meeting is often the norm, not the exception, which means you have several considerations you may not have had in the past. Everyone in the same room looking at the same whiteboard? What is this, a throwback to 2019? More than likely, you’ll have at least one person attending the meeting virtually, so it’s important to consider the best meeting location and how to engage with all attendees. You don’t want your audience in the nosebleed section to miss out.
Once you know what type of meeting you’re facilitating (virtual/hybrid/in-person), you’ll want to determine what technologies and tools might be needed to collaborate, brainstorm, present, discuss, prioritize, and make decisions. Is Zoom your best tool? What if some people are in the conference room, while others are dialing in? You will want to ensure you’ve booked a conference room with a microphone and speakers so everyone can join in.
You’ll also want to consider whether other roles such as a co-facilitator, subject matter expert, or notetaker will be needed to ensure the meeting has all the right people in the room to reach the desired outcome. It may also be beneficial to have people in these additional roles assist with any pre-work that is necessary prior to the meeting, such as document review, collecting inputs from those who cannot attend, or contributing to your presentation slides. Think of these people as your roadies.
Develop the Content and Design the Experience
Once you know your purpose and desired outcome and have identified your design considerations, it’s time to put together your presentation. Think of your agenda as your outline, the professional version of a setlist – opening act, your set, encore – what you’re there to discuss, discussion, conclusion. The agenda will help you frame the timing and flow of your meeting, but you’ll want to ensure the content lines up with the allotted time; you may have to move things around or look at how much time really needs to be devoted to a topic.
Hot tip about becoming a facilitation rockstar: think like a rockstar. Rockstars have amazing visual and graphic effects, an opening band, and a killer sound system. As a facilitator, you also need these tools. Make your content interesting, engaging, and collaborative. You didn’t go to the concert to see lip-syncing, and you didn’t go to the meeting to read slides you could’ve read on your own time. Start with an icebreaker or warm-up. Get your stadium (ok, conference room) full of people pumped up and talking before you dive into the meat of your presentation. And make sure your speakers are working and everyone can hear.
Getting Ready to Facilitate
Before you’re ready to take the stage, perform a dry run. Establish backup plans in case of technology glitches, agenda shifts, a topic going overlong, and other unexpected events, such as a thunderstorm during your stadium tour.
If you’ve ever been to a meeting and didn’t know why you were there, you know how frustrating that is and how difficult it is to stay engaged. Send your agenda in advance and include the meeting’s purpose, the desired outcomes, and any pre-work needed.
You don’t see a rockstar sitting down during a performance (unless you’re Dave Grohl and broke your leg and know the show must go on) because their voice is more powerful and commanding when they’re standing. The same is true for sitting up straight. It helps you both look and sound as though you’re in command of the room or Zoom. In fact, facilitators often get up and walk around the room when facilitating in person. If you are on Zoom, make sure your self-view is on to ensure your “face isn’t facing”, i.e., people can read your thoughts and emotions when a topic gets juicy or heated.
Finally, and most importantly, as a facilitation rockstar, have fun with it! You are there to bring your own personal brand, knowledge, and style to the meeting. Make it yours!