Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0145 | March 23, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...
 


Dear friends,

My friend and colleague, Susan Wilson is a master at meeting facilitation, among other things. This week's article, "We've Got to Start Meeting Like This," offers an example of the powerful, creative, yet simple strategies she uses and teaches to help keep groups moving and on course. We also provided information on her latest book,
Gourmet Meetings on a Microwave Schedule below in the resource section. This is an easy read with great strategies that will "stick to your ribs" so to speak, helping you to improve how you conduct meetings and work with groups.

Also, I'm excited to invite you to our next one-hour tele-seminar with Susan Wilson:."Present, But Not Accounted For. During this one-hour tele-seminar, we'll talk about some of the most challenging aspects of facilitating groups, such as managing commitment, dealing with difficult people and situations, and optimizing participation. Note that we offer recordings and notes, together with several nice bonuses that will offer you nearly the same value as if you were there. Please see details below.

If any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation, group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest our readers, please email them to us.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher

 
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Group Awareness and Management Skill
Weíve Got To Start Meeting Like This
The Point

Hereís a riddle to consider before you read any further. What is often boring, too long, lacking participation and expensive?

According to a multitude of clients, the answer is...(the envelope please)...meetings!

Repeatedly, clients bemoan the lack of value in meetings. In a business climate that seeks to add value to nearly everything that is done, meetings are prime targets for evaluation. Consider this. If you are in a meeting of ten people where salaries range from $50,000- $150,000, the average expense of a one hour and eighteen minute meeting (after all, how many meetings actually stay within their one hour designated time frame?) is about $691.00. Most of us agree that, for the money, we would rather have an investment with a real value of return. There are an array of strategies for improving the effectiveness of and enthusiasm for meetings. Getting focused participation from those whose contribution is valuable will reap the rate of return that you desire. If you use the strategies outlined here in your next meetings, improved results are guaranteed.

Application


1. Find ways to position the need for contribution. Here are ideas to do this. When sending information about a meeting, reference that participants need to come prepared to contribute. If useful, even take a few moments to call or e-mail notes that let specific people know that you are counting on their input on particular issues.

2. When opening the meeting, establish guidelines for its success that include the need for participation and how participation is honored. The subtlety of this is recognized and appreciated by your attendees. For example, I often remind participants of the need to honor the time and energy dedicated to the meeting by the following: Start/end on time, Contribute proactively, Confront issues honestly, but respectfully, and Listen with care. We then hold each other accountable and even reward participation (my first choice is with chocolate!) In the hundreds of meetings Iíve facilitated, there has rarely been a miss on great participation when guidelines acceptable to the group are used.

3. Let participants know at the beginning of your meeting that you will ask questions during the meeting. Reduce potential discomfort by saying, "I may call on you, but if you prefer not to respond, just call on someone else." Then responding or calling on someone else becomes their choice.

4. When confusion or misunderstanding occurs in the group, "own" it as yours. Regardless of why something gets misunderstood, take responsibility for it by saying something like, "I donít think I was clear enough on that. What questions do you have?" or "I think one of you could help restate that point better than I did. Jody, would you take a shot at that?" or "What did I just do to cause misunderstanding?" By owning the mistake, we reduce potential defensiveness in others, and direct their energy to helping resolve the confusion.

5. Just as a professional speaker "plants questions" in an audience for the Q and A segment at times, you might consider "planting responses." But what I mean by that is to let specific people know ahead of time that you will be calling on them for their response to particular issues. You are not telling them what to say, you are just ensuring that there are participants who will contribute.

6. When asking a question of a group, give enough of a pause to let people think. Too often, we ask a question, and then get nervous with the subsequent silence. Stop, breathe, and allow your participants to think. Iíve even found it useful to sit down if Iím standing or relax more in my chair if Iím already sitting after asking a question. Itís a visual cue to participants that I really do want to hear from them. Invite the silence to work for you.

7. Affirm people for their contributions right after they occur. Remember, what gets rewarded gets repeated. A simple, but sincere "thank you" goes a long way to raising the probability that participants will contribute again...and again. At the end of a meeting, take a moment to express appreciation for contributions and what they meant to the results of the meeting.

Once again, as we consider these ideas, it is obvious that they are simple to understand. The much more difficult issue is to make habits of these good and simple ideas. Read on for one more reminder of the need to take action.

There is a short math problem that goes like this: Three frogs were sitting on a lily pad. One decided to jump. How many were left?

Ready for the answer? Three. One frog decided to jump; he didnít actually make the leap. And our challenge is the same-- to take the leap from the decision to the action. Take the actions that raise participation in your meetings whether you are the leader or in a ring-side seat. Youíll be a major part of turning an expense into a valuable investment.

About the Author. Susan B. Wilson, MBA, CSP is the owner and lead facilitator of Executive Strategies, Inc., a firm that specializes in providing specific creative strategies that motivate people to accomplish extraordinary goals. She is also the president of Fast Team Solutions, providing valuable products and resources for teams in the areas of meetings management, team building, facilitation, strategic planning, and conflict resolution. Visit fastteamsolutions.com or call Deanne at (641) 792-2041 for more information.


Action

Pick a tip above and try it out this week in one of your group meetings. Please
email us to tell us how it worked for you.
Facilitation Expert Series

Facilitation Micro-Skills Tele-Seminar: "Present, But Not Accounted For," featuring Susan Wilson, Facilitator, Speaker, Author and Founder of Executive Strategies, Inc.

Attend this one-hour tele-seminar with Susan Wilson and Steve Davis and learn...Specific Strategies to Build Curiosity, Commitment and Collaboration. Some of the points we discuss are...

How do you deal with the participant who have all the answers?
How do you handle participants who continue side conversations and disrupt the flow?
How do you deal with group members who don't believe in the team process, but who remain on the team?
How do you shift a group who's settled for the status quo and just tell you, "Well that's just the way things are," or "That's just the way he is"?
How do you handle group members who sabotage the good work done by others through bad mouthing and other negative behaviors?
What do you do with team members who don't prepare before meetings?
How do you assure that participants take away something of value from each meeting?
How do you handle participants with personal and/or political agendas who have no intention of shifting their ground for the greater good of the group?
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.

Four Free Bonuses!

1.GOMO® Audit. Get Over it and Move On (GOMO) is a proven 5-step system for acknowledging the issues that create obstacles in our lives…and for overcoming them!

2. Great Meeting Quiz. Do your meetings leave you fully satisfied or are you starving for results? Offer this brief quiz to your clients to help them discover the changes that need to be made to make their meetings more appetizing (and effective)!

3. Random Acts of Facilitation Wallet Card. This handy little tidbit is the size of a business card and lists 25 Random Acts of Facilitation anyone can commit to further the results of a group. Great little resource to have handy at meetings.

4. Icebreakers. Three nice icebreakers exercises with a dozen or so variations that can be used to start a variety of meetings.

Click here for details about this interview, the bonuses, and registration.

Resource


Gourmet Meetings on a Microwave Schedule, by Susan B. Wilson, Deanne R. Herr

Gourmet Meetings on a Microwave Schedule is A Feast of more than 150 Smart Meeting Strategies Guaranteed to Save You Time,Energy & Lotsa Dough! Whether in the name of volunteer duty or in the workplace, the great majority of us are required to attend meetings. And most of us believe that meeting time is often wasted time. Fortunately, you don't have to leave your next meeting with a bad taste in your mouth...and you don't have to slave all day to cook up a meeting that is both profitable and enjoyable. Gourmet Meetings on a Microwave Schedule is written with your busy schedule in mind. The 28 short, easy-to-read chapters are packed with more than 150 timeless strategies and brand-new ideas for immediately improving the effectiveness of, and enthusiasm for, your meetings.

 
 
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This course explores how to make the leap from conventional teaching to the skills, attitudes, and practices necessary to create and facilitate a learning environment.


I became inspired and awakened to a new possibility. Itís a possibility that instead of being a teacher, I discovered that I am very passionate about facilitating learning. This is what I am fundamentally all about, and I was turned on by the conversation, the facilitation, the tools and the community of learners who were present. -- Annie Hammond, Business Coach
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Training Agenda...

Here's what you'll be learning and doing during this course...

Exploring the Landscape of Learning

- What is "Learning?" Who Learns? Who teaches?
- Review distinctions between Teaching, Training, Mentoring, Coaching, and Facilitating
- The Content/Process Paradox

Changing the Paradigm
- Shift from Director to Guide
- "Ability to do" vs. Info delivery
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Becoming a Learning Facilitator
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Benefits from participating in the training...

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Pricing...

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Dates...

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Also included with your training...

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