How to Plan and Facilitate Meetings
Purpose: Project Managers and Team Leaders are typically responsible for planning and facilitating meetings. Proper planning and facilitation will direct the team toward success.
Keep the following tips and techniques in mind to Plan and Facilitate Meetings
Prepare an initial agenda, Meeting Planning and forward it meeting participants prior to the meeting. This will allow for participants to view the agenda and make recommendations on the content.
If there are questions, issues, or any work tasks that meeting participants should have completed prior to the meeting, send a reminder and include how their work will be used in the meeting.
ü Meeting Sponsor:
Make sure the project sponsor, or a representative of the sponsor, is invited to participate in the meeting. Plan to include the sponsor on the minutes distribution list so that s/he is aware and may voice their thoughts.
ü Publish Minutes:
Plan for someone to take notes during the meeting. Make sure the major discussion points and decisions made during the meeting are clearly defined in meeting minutes.
ü Meeting Facilitator:
Consider using a facilitator other than the Project Manager. When using a facilitator, clearly define the facilitator’s role. A facilitator allows the Project Manager to focus on the meeting rather than taking notes.
ü Meeting Location:
Find a meeting room that is conducive. Not too small, with enough air for the participants to breath comfortably. The number of attendees and the processes used to accomplish the agenda will drive the type and size of room and its configuration (e.g. classroom seating, small tables, overhead projector, flip charts, microphones, etc.).
Be ready for the meeting. Make sure the meeting room has the equipment needed. Make sure that the team has all the information they will need prior to the meeting. Plan to print, collate and staple documents in advance of the meeting time.
What is most important is the outcome, not the process. Be willing to deviate from your plan if at any time it gets in the way of achieving the outcomes of the meeting agenda.
ü Listen Well:
Listen to what is being said, what is behind what is being said, and what is not being said.
ü Constructive Confrontation:
If conflict arises identify commonalities by having the group focus on common interests. Lead people away from attacking each other and instead attack the problem or issue at hand.
ü What are the Facts:
Try to identify the facts from the interpretations. If a group begins to argue about interpretations, get them to agree on the facts first.
ü Identify the “Guiding Principles.”:
The “Guiding Principles” help to define the necessary ingredients for a successful meeting. The Project Manager, meeting participants, and facilitator should agree on the Guiding Principles. Some examples include the following:
· Arrive on Time and Stay Until the End
· Last person to a meeting must tell a joke
· Make your agenda known
· Recognize that all participants have equal say
· Conduct one conversation at a time
· Keep discussion within the scope of achieving the outcomes on the agenda
· Come prepared (pre-read the agenda and associated documents)
· Assign and document all open issues
· Assign and document all action items. Include the expected completion date of each action item.
ü Define the Decision Making Process:
Make sure that the decision process is determined prior to beginning the work.
ü Repeat Meetings Questions:
Reiterate questions back to the meeting participants.
ü Propose vs. Oppose:
Urge team members to “propose” alternate solutions if they do not agree in the meetings. You may find that you agree to disagree however one people will make the final decision.