Meeting Facilitation Requires Effective Communication Skills

Evelyne Brown

Meetings are responsible for three major areas: (1) providing policy and procedures; (2) organizing and running the meeting within its standing orders and formalities; and (3) expecting members to participate in decision making and initiating and implementing actions within the meeting’s areas of expertise and interest. Meetings will become more effective if these three areas of responsibility are consistently implemented because the executive and members will have the opportunity to generate new ideas, solve problems, and make democratic decisions.

The majority of managers spend a significant amount of time in meetings with their subordinates and company officials. They work in cross-functional work teams or as members of special task forces. Meetings that are productive are a recurring major challenge for many managers. Many meetings are simply information exchanges. A short memo or a quick phone call can then be used to disseminate the information more effectively. Many other meetings are held to solve complex problems while basic fact-finding and research are still ongoing.

The first step in holding high-quality meetings is to ensure that the information provided is the right vehicle for the type of communication required.

Meeting Facilitation Requires Effective Communication Skills

1. Distribute the meeting agenda before the session begins. A memo containing the topics to be discussed in the meeting session is usually distributed to the participants. Allow all participants the opportunity to share their thoughts on the topics that will be discussed during the meeting. Avoid deciding on too many topics to discuss. Be consistent about what you want to discuss in a given meeting.

2. Gather all relevant participants and decision-makers. They will have a significant impact on the meeting’s final decisions.

3. Select a suitable location for the meeting. Look for a large space with the right atmosphere and comfort. The proper location will facilitate the exchange of messages and allow you to say what you need to say.

4. Select chairs with soft cushions and adequate lighting.

5. Take meeting minutes and distribute them to participants after the meeting. Aspects to consider before a meeting

Determine whether the issues at hand are worthy of resolution.
• Are those concerns significant enough?
• Do we have sufficient resources and time to address those issues?
• Are we willing to devote resources and time to resolving these issues?

Explain the meeting’s purpose.
• Why do we have to talk about these things?
• What do we hope to gain from this meeting?
• What are our roles in attempting to meet the expected targets?
• What do we hope to gain from this meeting in terms of our relationships with outsiders?

Preparation is essential.
• What kind of problem am I thinking about, and why?
• How can I express the issue at hand?
• Is the problem the fault of others?
• Do I have the willingness to listen to the other meeting participants?
• How do I feel about the situation? What are the other people’s thoughts on the issue? Can we keep our emotions in check when discussing it?

Approach the other people.
• Contact the others and find a neutral location for a meeting.
• Determine whether all parties involved can attend the meeting at a specific time and location.

Aspects to consider during a meeting
• Show respect to everyone.
• Be truthful.
• Listen to other people’s points of view and understand why their points of view are important to them.
• Describe your thoughts and desires.
• Maintain emotional control. If necessary, take a break.
• Take your time. At times, the discussion may appear to be going in circles. Try to pay closer attention.
• Have a brainstorm. Share your thoughts on how to meet everyone’s needs.
• Make a decision that is supported by everyone, and then devise a plan for implementation.

Aspects to consider following a meeting
• Take minutes to record the joint decisions made during the meeting; and • Plan the next meeting if the meeting did not result in a joint decision. Make a list of what was discussed and what needs to be discussed at the next meeting. This is necessary to avoid repeating the same discussions at the next meeting.
• Create an agenda for the next meeting; and • Evaluate any critical joint decisions that have been made. Keep an eye on how the decisions are being carried out. In the event of a deviation, make the necessary corrections or call an emergency meeting.