Organizations of all sizes have meetings. These gatherings are a way to get different members of the organization on the same page; and they are also a great way to evaluate current strategies or brainstorm new ones. However, unproductive meetings cause the company to hold even more meetings as resources are continually wasted. By some estimates, the average American worker spends 100 hours per month in meetings. Companies can avoid wasting expensive labor by making a commitment to holding more productive meetings. The best way to make this commitment is by bringing in a meeting facilitator.
When a company works with a facilitator, it sends the message that these meetings will be productive. The first thing that a facilitator will do is sit down with organizational leaders to determine why the meeting is necessary. In some cases, this research might show that a meeting is not the best way to address the problem. When the meeting facilitator determines that this type of gathering will benefit the company, the professional will begin planning the gathering.
A well thought-out meeting is a more productive meeting, so every facilitator will prioritize the planning phase. He or she will work with organizational leaders to outline objectives that need to be met during the meeting. These objectives can then be used to structure the rest of the meeting, by deciding: the types of questions that a facilitator asks, or who is asked to take part in the discussion. Once the facilitator has determined who needs to attend the meeting, he or she should make sure that each individual is able to attend. When a key decision maker is busy, many companies opt to hold the meeting without them, but this is a huge mistake. The end result is that employees will waste time in a meeting that will not produce a final decision.
Next, the meeting facilitator will distribute a summary of the information that he or she has learned. This information might include meeting goals and background information that will be used during the meeting to make decisions. By giving each organizational member access to this information, the facilitator ensures that everyone will be on the same page when the meeting starts.
During the meeting, attendees will understand why it is best to outsource the task of facilitation. The meeting facilitator must: lead the group discussion, ensure that each individual has a chance to speak, and direct the group to discuss certain ideas. A facilitator who comes from within the organization is likely to sway the direction that the discussion takes due to his or her own biases. Additionally, some team members will be reluctant to share thoughts or go against the leader’s opinion if they think that they are jeopardizing work relationships. An outside facilitator focuses on the problem at hand, and guides the group to a solution by asking for a consensus and ensuring that everyone is given the chance to speak. This ensures that meetings are more productive, which means that less meetings are necessary in the future.