- Someone to take a little time out to connect personally with everyone on the call. OK, this might not be possible with 300 people but there might be a couple of people in a large group to draw attention to, for example, birthdays or someone who is back having been sick. A good facilitator thinks a bit more about people and ways of engaging with them.
- They would stipulate upfront the purpose of the virtual gathering, the agenda and timing and get buy-in to that. It’s hard to stay focused when you’re not sure what’s going on.
- A facilitator is not a dictator! They might make a proposal. They might suggest. They might consult. It depends on the group. It might be appropriate to ask, ‘Does anyone have anything to add to the agenda?’ or just ‘Is everyone OK with that?’.
- A good facilitator will have considered suitable processes for conducting the agenda items. Depending on whether they want a discussion, a decision or some creative ideas, there are appropriate processes for each. And there are some great ones out there. Have you tried Thinking Rounds? This is a perfect process if you want to avoid the senior people or extraverts dominating the discussion.
- They will be good listeners – probing interesting comments to find out what’s below the waterline and not being said explicitly.
- Facilitators find ways to build consensus – again, using appropriate processes such as agreeing a list of suitable criteria and carrying out an assessment of risks and rewards.
- They will ensure clarity on next steps. Who is to do what, by when? This will be essential for following up at the next meeting. And the team members can get a clear sense of progress being made. Thereby minimising the risk of such meetings being perceived as a waste of time!
And another point…the facilitator doesn’t have to be the boss. Just someone good at it!
Further tips on having effective meetings at: