Facilitating meetings leading and conducting a meeting: rules and tips for the facilitator

The exact course of a meeting cannot be planned, but it can be controlled

The successful course of a meeting is largely based on good preparation. Think it ahead in the schedule, director’s plan or script. How the meeting actually goes cannot be planned in detail. Because the contributions and the behavior of the participants cannot be predicted. Nevertheless, there are some rules and tips for conducting a meeting so that the course is controlled and thus remains manageable. It is important that the meeting does not get out of hand.

Start on time!

Those who arrive on time want the meeting to start on time. On time means: you start with the welcome and agenda item (TOP) 1 at the time you specified as the start in the invitation. All those who come later, it’s their own fault if they miss content. If you always start your meeting on time, the "latecomers" and everyone else will recognize that punctuality is a high value. But: you don’t need to say anything if individuals arrive late. Give them a quick nod and continue with your program.

This necessarily presupposes that you, as the discussion leader or moderator, are punctual yourself. It is best to be there 10 to 30 minutes before the start to make sure that everything is prepared as you have planned it. And you can tune into the room and the meeting.

If one or more important people are not yet present, coordinate with those present or explain the situation. If possible, address latecomers later and ask them to be on time in the future.

Create a positive working atmosphere!

Welcome all participants warmly. Make eye contact with everyone. Thank them for their participation. Express your pleasure at the results that are worked out together.

Show each participant that they are important to you, even during the meeting. Make eye contact with all participants again and again. Address them by their names. Ask questions of understanding. Listen actively by nodding, asking questions and summarizing. Let the participants speak.

Clarify the process!

Introduce the topic, objectives, and agenda. Explain and briefly explain the important points so that everyone is attuned to the meeting topic. However, do not give an introductory speech if this is not on the agenda.

Determine in which form the contributions will be visualized (flipchart), how the minutes will be created, what form they will take (results, action plan) and who will create them. State the important rules such as:

  • Turn off cell phones!
  • Only one person talks, not several at the same time!
  • No long monologues!
  • Rules for breaks and duration are binding!
  • Use a fair tone and deal with each other!

Agree with the participants what should also be clarified in advance from their point of view.

Be neutral as a moderator!

Do not take a position on the content contributions. If you want or need to make a substantive contribution, you should clearly state that you are now stepping out of your moderator role. Do this only when necessary.

Guide you through the presentations, speeches, conversations and discussions

When a presentation is given, when individual participants make a speech contribution, and when conversations and discussions are held, your tasks as discussion leader and moderator:

  • Give the floor to the participants who come forward (generally in the order in which they asked to speak).
  • You briefly introduce the speaker of a presentation and his/her topic and give him/her the floor.
  • Make sure that no one interrupts unless it is directly related to the issue (it is often difficult to decide what is related to the issue and what is not; you need experience and tact here).
  • You make sure that everyone gets a chance to speak.
  • Slow down frequent and long speakers (no long monologues); if necessary, address the persons concerned during the break or ask for short contributions in between (here, too, you need tact).
  • You write down important content on the flipchart.
  • If necessary, summarize what has been said so that everyone knows how it relates to the current agenda item (this helps if you have gone off topic).
  • You ask participants to be objective and to respect the rules of the conversation and each other when there are personal attacks.
  • If the discussion situation escalates, take a break or break off the meeting: "I suggest we end the conversation at this point and continue when everyone’s minds have calmed down again."(Often this announcement calms the situation down by itself; however, it should be meant seriously and should only be pronounced in a real emergency.)

Adopt a questioning attitude!

As the moderator, steer the discussion by asking questions and follow-up questions. He who asks leads! When doing so, ask questions as simply, purposefully and constructively as possible.

  • Don’t ask for culprits, but for causes and possible solutions. Not: Who? But: By what? Like?
  • Deal with implicit and perhaps inaccurate assumptions in participants’ minds by asking questions such as, "What makes you think that? . "
  • Ask for unspecific terms: "What do you mean by . Exactly? What is meant? How to write it up?"
  • Question generalizations if it seems necessary: "How else could it be seen? Always? Everywhere?"

Use questions to activate participants! Here you will find detailed tips and question techniques: Questioning techniques and types of questions.

Stick to the topic!

If important issues and points are raised during the discussion that are not part of the agenda item and cannot be dealt with quickly, record these points in the topic repository on a flip chart and deal with them later or at another meeting. You will be included in the action plan or in the minutes for this purpose. But only if the topic is really important!

Lead participants back to the topic if necessary: "Let’s get back to …".

Treat attacks like a request!

When attacks occur, always ask yourself if it was really a personal attack or just a clumsily worded request. A statement like: "The way you mean it doesn’t work!" Can be answered with, "Well, let’s talk for a moment about how it might go."

Direct personal attacks back to the attacker first: "What do you mean by that specifically?? Where do you see the connection with our topic?" Or to the group: "Do you all agree? . " Then draw the appropriate conclusions and adjust your approach if necessary.

If necessary, talk to the aggressor or the "disputants" about their motives during the break. In the case of serious problems, interrupt the work and address the problem openly with the group in order to find a solution. You may have to break off the meeting if it becomes clear that the goals are no longer being achieved.

Disagreement is not necessarily conflict!

But don’t consider every disagreement a conflict. Allow different opinions to be considered as such. Record it in the minutes and agree: this item must be dealt with separately (new agenda item or separate meeting).

Sometimes different opinions cannot be brought together. There are good arguments and reasons for every opinion, and in the meeting you will not find a compromise with your participants. Nevertheless, you have to decide. Then you need a regulation, which opinion is valid now or should be pursued further. A rule can be: The manager decides. Another can be: We vote.

Keep frequent speakers in check!

This is very difficult, and there is no magic formula for it. Observe all other participants as they respond to the frequent speaker. Are they annoyed? Or do they appreciate its constructive contributions? You have the following options:

  • It is helpful if you are stingy with eye contacts and rarely or never look at the frequent speaker again.
  • Ask quieter participants directly for their opinion: "Mr. Muller, how do you see this point??"
  • Use visual rhetoric by asking directly, "How do you want me to write this down now??"
  • Have them work on the issues in writing or in small groups.
  • Kindly ask the people who talk a lot to back off a bit so everyone can have their say.

Interruptions have priority!

Disruptions such as reservations, anger, disagreement, fatigue, listlessness should be addressed directly. Ask for the causes. Try to find a solution together with the participants. Define your rules of the game in the group if necessary.

If the group does not accept the methodology, this should be addressed. Ask why there are reservations. The group may not be familiar with the methodology, in which case you should briefly explain it to them. Clarify alternatives with the group. But: Do not question your own methodology without necessity!

Also make sure participants are active in the meeting, all listening and participating. If someone is doing other tasks on the side, working on emails or chatting, then address this. Ask the group how everyone wants to handle it. Perhaps the topic just discussed is not interesting to many and can therefore be deleted or shortened.

If someone urgently needs to do something else, offer to leave the room. If someone is disrupting the other participants with "side activities," ask that they stop or leave the room.

Address time constraints in good time!

If you as the moderator realize that not all the items on the agenda can be dealt with, address the group in good time on how to deal with them. Make a plan together for how you will still discuss the items that were not covered. Under no circumstances should there be open ends! Always specify in the action plan how to proceed. Make sure you also end the meeting on time – as planned in the agenda and invitation.

Never end without concrete agreements!

Develop a plan of action whenever possible. Plan enough time to still make agreements at the end:

  • How to prepare the results (protocol)?
  • When will the participants be informed?
  • What are the next steps (information to coordinate or note)?
  • What tasks have been agreed?
  • What are the next appointments?
  • What points are still open (and will be clarified when)?

Think about it: how did your last meetings go? What went well? What was bad? What did the facilitator do or what could they have done to manage problem situations or conflicts? What would you have done differently in his place?

Put yourself in the meeting you will be leading next:

  • What problems could arise?
  • What conflicts could arise?
  • How do you want to deal with special problem situations?
  • What do you need to pay special attention to?
  • What do you intend to do?

It takes some experience and practice to handle difficult conversational situations in meetings and get everything back on track. Practice this through thought games or role plays.

Above all, it is important to keep a constant eye on what is being said and what is happening; as the moderator, you must not allow your thoughts to wander for a second. Be kind, respectful, but also firm and clear with your announcements!

With the end of the meeting, record the results, using the following templates:

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: