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How Do I Choose A Meeting Facilitator?

Knowing how to choose a meeting facilitator is critical, especially for strategic planning and innovation sessions. In this article, you’ll find suggestions that will help you hire the right facilitator for your upcoming meeting.

A meeting facilitator guides the discussion and encourages everyone to share their best ideas so that the meeting can be as productive as possible. Meeting facilitators are organized, enthusiastic, and they can help you consolidate everything you say into a helpful, prioritized list. They are also excellent time managers who will ensure that ‘talkers’ don’t talk too much, and that your meeting will finish on time.

The Effective Meetings Professional Development Workshop

For leaders who want to improve the overall productivity, and profitability of their meetings.

How Do You Know If You Need A Meeting Facilitator?

One way to figure out if you need a meeting facilitator is to simply rate how important your upcoming meeting is on a scale from 1-10.

For example, let’s say you want to hold a strategic planning session. If you know that your current strategy is in good shape, and that all of the senior leaders are getting along, then you could rate the need to bring in a meeting facilitator as 3/10.

But if you don’t have a strategy, and your leaders are going to fight if there isn’t an experienced facilitator to guide them, then you could rate the need for a facilitator at 9/10.

"If there are many strong opinions in the room, and concensus is required, consider using a facilitator."

What To Look For In A Meeting Facilitator

Here is a list of basic skills that every meeting facilitator should have.

Objectivity

A meeting facilitator is from ‘outside of the family.’ This means that they are not involved in how your team has treated each other in the past. So they are able to respectfully say what needs to be said in an objective and unbiased manner.

Time Management

The pace of business is too fast to allow for your most important meetings to be unproductive. An experienced meeting facilitator will make sure that you start on time, end on time, and get the most out of your most important meetings.

Discretion

A meeting facilitator knows the importance of client confidentiality, so when you work with them you know that your secrets will not be revealed.

Energetic

They will bring high energy to your important meetings and light up those dull participants who don’t talk much.

Firm and Fair

They will manage disagreements by establishing firm ground rules. For example, if two people are arguing then the meeting facilitator could remind them that ‘only one person speaks at a time.’ They could also remind them that ‘all discussions should be about the issue and not about the person.’ When a meeting facilitator is firm and fair, then the trust level grows and you can get more accomplished.

Big Picture

An experienced meeting facilitator understands that everything you do in a meeting should move your biggest goals forward. So they will take the time to understand the big picture and then make sure that everything you do in your meeting moves your strategy forward.

Humorous

By making a joke at the right time, or helping people to not be too serious, a facilitator can make the meeting really enjoyable.

Before You Hire A Meeting Facilitator

Step 1: Define the scope of the engagement

  • What type of meeting are you having?
  • Why should you hire a meeting facilitator?
  • What will the meeting facilitator be responsible for?

Step 2: Have a discovery meeting

You should have an initial meeting with a potential meeting facilitator to get to know each other and cover any major issues.

Here are 10 questions that you can ask during this meeting.

    1. What is your approach for running a successful meeting?
    2. Tell me about your favourite engagement and why it went well
    3. If there is a disagreement, how would you manage it?
    4. Will you sign a confidentiality agreement?
    5. Do you have insurance for Errors and Omissions (to protect against unintended negligent actions)
    6. Can you provide references?
    7. Can you submit a detailed proposal that will explain your approach to this engagement?
    8. Will you provide an engagement contract?
    9. Why do you enjoy facilitating meetings?
    10. How do you inspire meeting participants?

Step 3: Negotiate and do the paperwork

  • Once you have decided to move forward then you can negotiate the costs and ask the facilitator to submit a proposal
  • Once the proposal is approved then you can sign a contract
Once you have a contract, then it’s time to have a kick-off meeting.

Cost Of Hiring A Meeting Facilitator

The costs of hiring a meeting facilitator depend on a variety of factors including:
  • Whether or not you want to hire someone with. lot of experience, or someone who is just starting out
  • Whether or not you want them to travel
  • How many people are in the meeting
  • How much work is required before, during and after the meeting
With that in mind, here is a variety of providers and what they charge – based on Google search and phone conversations – (click on the names to visit their websites).

After You Hire A Meeting Facilitator

Step 1: Kick-off meeting

  • In the kick-off meeting you will want to brainstorm about the best way to utilize the meeting facilitator
  • Reinforce your goals for the upcoming special meeting
  • Talk about who will be at the meeting and how to get the most out of each person
  • Go over any technical requirements – projector, computer, speakers, flip charts markers, stickies etc.
  • Confirm the date and time
  • Confirm the venue – or it it will be online
  • Pass along relevant documents in this meeting (e.g. strategic plan, budget etc.)

Step 2: Pre-Interviews

  • Get the meeting facilitator to pre-interview key participants before the meeting. This will allow them to contribute their best ideas and also give their opinion about how to run a great meeting
Step 3: Conduct the meeting
 
  • Introduce the Professional Facilitator in an exciting way that immediately establishes their credibility
  • Establish ‘ground rules’ as in; what happens with cell phones during the meeting; what happens if there is a fight?
  • Have a productive meeting with a high level of communication
  • Take detailed notes
  • Give feedback to the facilitator during the meeting to make changes on the go if necessary
  • Conclude the meeting and mention that the facilitator will be following up if there are additional questions/concerns
Step 4: Follow-up after the meeting
 
  •  Exchange feedback with the meeting facilitator
  • Get a brief follow-up report from the facilitator
  • Swap suggestions about how to create accountability after the meeting
  • Keep in touch with the facilitator to let them know about the overall impact from what happened during the meeting

What Will Happen If You Don’t Hire A Meeting Facilitator?

Sometimes people have concerns about hiring a meeting facilitator. Will it cost too much? What if we don’t get enough done?

If this is the case, then don’t hire a meeting facilitator.

But if you have any doubts, then ask yourself and your team, “What will happen if we don’t hire a meeting facilitator?”

Your answer to this question will help you to know how to proceed.

 What Will Happen If You Do Hire A Meeting Facilitator

In the end, hiring a meeting facilitator is a long-term investment in your organization’s overall profitability. Because if they can help you get the most out of your most important meetings, then you will be growing your overall MROI (Meeting-Return-On-Investment).

Knowing how to choose a meeting facilitator is critical, especially for strategic planning and innovation sessions. In this article, you’ll find suggestions that will help you hire the right facilitator for your upcoming meeting.

The Effective Meetings Professional Development Workshop

For leaders who want to improve the overall productivity, and profitability of their meetings.
Picture of Gordon Sheppard

Gordon Sheppard

Gordon Sheppard is a Leadership Coach, Consultant, Facilitator, Author, and Podcaster. He helps business leaders get the information, advice and inspiration they need to be successful. He is also the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc.

Contact Gord

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