Meeting or Project Facilitation



Organizing a group of people to complete a task or project in either one meeting or over several meetings can be challenging. Mediation Partners New England can work with the leadership to structure meetings and/or projects so that a variety of perspectives are heard, creativity encouraged and the timeline met. Sometimes it just takes a professional skilled in meeting organization, design, and management to make the difference between long ineffective meetings and meetings that produce desired outcomes in a reasonable amount of time and with positive, constructive dialog.

Value and Benefits

There are several benefits to working with a facilitator:

  • The group leadership is freed from the task of running the meeting and can more effectively participate in the discussions;
  • A meeting facilitator is experienced with structuring an agenda and appropriate meeting activities to achieve the goals of the meeting;
  • An effective facilitator can manage discussion of difficult topics ensuring that all views are heard and potentially over-bearing participants don’t monopolize the discussion yet feel acknowledged.
  • A facilitator is experienced in designing the activity to achieve the needed outcome. For example, the work to create group norms requires a different approach than agreeing on priorities, designing a new service product, or creating a vision and mission for a team or organization.

Outcomes

In a meeting which is organized and facilitated by a professional there is:

  • A well thought out agenda matching work tasks to desired result;
  • A balance between meeting goals and time allotted;
  • Balanced attendee participation – the facilitator manages those that have strong, vocal opinions and encourages quiet attendees to share their viewpoints;
  • Management of conflict;
  • Management of digressions;
  • Typically more buy-in by attendees;
  • More likely to be structured decision making;
  • More likelihood of achieving meeting goals;
  • Appropriate closure and documentation to guide follow-up.

Example Cases

  1. A homeowners association is considering replacing its worn and dated activity center that includes a pool and activity/meeting space. Some homeowners believe it will increase the value of their houses while others see it as an extravagance. The association’s leadership wants to hear input and constructive dialog but are concerned that open meetings may be disrupted by a vocal minority against the project. It is decided to hire a professional meeting facilitator to manage an upcoming series of meetings.

  2. A congregation has decided to step up its major capital campaign to build a new worship space and classrooms. A motivating factor is that interest rates are low and the time is ripe to borrow funds needed while the pledges are completed. The congregational leadership wants to be sure that the positive climate remains strong, people have an opportunity to share their ideas, but that tight planning timeframes are met. It has been decided to hire a professional project facilitator to compliment the architect and contractor. The facilitator will run meetings which will collect congregation input and also report on status.

  3. Due to population growth, the town of Hasting-on-the-Mountain must re-design its voting districts. The re-design will be challenging because established neighborhoods want to keep the alignment of their current voting districts. The town council and the city manager have decided to hire a professional meeting facilitator to assist the re-districting sub-committee with meeting planning and management.


Frequently Asked Questions about Meeting or Project Facilitation

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