Facilitating at the Highest Levels

Facilitating at the Highest Levels by Megan Hicks

It is hard not to recognize and respect an amazing facilitator when you see one in action. At some point in your career you may have to facilitate a meeting. If you are in any sort of leadership position, you probably facilitate meetings on a regular basis. This blog discusses the top 5 techniques MegAgility recommends every facilitator use. It draws examples between these facilitation techniques and the ones utilized by Kristen Walker in the final Presidential 2020 debate.

See this link to view the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m53kMTYeOak

Good Facilitators understand PURPOSE and the importance of communicating it. They begin each meeting by acknowledging the participants who are attending the meeting. They state the purpose of the meeting using clear and concise language. They leave little room for interpretation. They state the OUTCOME they are looking to achieve and any guidelines that may help the participants get to that outcome efficiently.

Kristen Walker put PURPOSE and expected OUTCOME into action by doing the following:

  1. She began by introducing herself and acknowledging the families of the debate participants.
  2. She politely asked the audience to remain respectful and quiet during the debate. By doing this she acknowledged another type of participant involved in debate and communicated guidelines.
  3. She introduced the debate candidates and reviewed the debate format with them.
  4. She stated the expected outcome of debate and left no room for interpretation.

Good Facilitators have great OBSERVATION skills. They notice facial expressions, body language, and temperament changes. They are aware of who is dominating the conversation and who has not spoken at all. The listen and encourage equal participation amongst their participants.

Kristen Walker did this several times throughout the debate by doing the following:

  1. She did her best to ensure both candidates got equal time to respond to one another and spoke up when she felt this was not balanced.
  2. She noticed body language and facial expressions and adjusted her approach with each candidate accordingly.

Lastly, good facilitators remain NEUTRAL and keep the conversation FOCUSED. They recognize that expressing too much passion about a particular solution or opinion could interfere with participant collaboration. They ensure that the meetings they facilitate feel safe and stay focused.

Kristen Walker displayed NEUTRALITY and FOCUS by doing the following:

  1. At no point did she express her opinion throughout the debate.
  2. When the candidates wanted to focus on a different topic, she reminded them what the topic was and steered the conversation back.
  3. When the candidates did not answer the question that was asked, she politely reminded them what the question was and gave them time to respond.

Next time you are facilitating a meeting remember the top 5 techniques, implement them, and tell us how they helped!

  1. State the purpose
  2. State the expected outcome
  3. Be an expert observer
  4. Remain neutral
  5. Keep the meeting focused