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Effective Facilitation: Creating Synergy in Meetings

April 05, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 122

The ability to communicate effectively is a strategic asset in the twenty-first century. While a didactic presentation can communicate information, facilitated discussions can yield mutually accepted outcomes and a much higher retention rate. The person who is able to generate and maintain a collaborate, facilitated experience will succeed in relating well to people and running successful meetings.

In business, a manager must motivate a team toward a common goal through a number of skill sets. Similarly, a good facilitator must be able to quickly gain the attention of the audience, clearly articulate the goals of the meeting, and then, ensure that they are met.

The next time you are tempted to tell the audience everything you know via lecture format, remember that group synergy can be created so that everyone benefits from the ideas and experiences of others in the group. The total effect of allowing members to interact is much greater than the sum of the individual effects. Furthermore, when adults have a chance to put learned concepts and skills into practice (i.e., case studies and discussion), the retention of information is greatly increased.

So here are eight tips to help you become a more effective facilitator:

1. Work the room. Establish a sincere, honest rapport by greeting and talking comfortably to as many participants as possible prior to officially starting the meeting. Create a safe environment from the beginning by breaking the ice, approaching attendees, and beginning light conversations. Listen actively so that participants feel their comments are valued.

2. Flash those pearly whites. A smile is the quickest way to endear yourself to an audience, and it's your million dollar asset. A smile can encourage quiet audience members and set a positive tone for the meeting.

3. Bring your road map. How do you want the program to go? Briefly explain the purpose, lay out the ground rules and format, discuss roles and goals, and create a positive direction for the discussion. However, don't be so rigid that you discourage a robust, free-flowing discussion. If things get off track, you can redirect the conversation and get the group back on task.

4. Avoid communication busters. A dragging pace, lengthy pauses, too many words, and vocal pauses can ruin your meeting. Be sure to vary your speaking pace, be succinct, and every time you hear an "um," "ah," or "you know," stop! Say nothing, and remember that a short pause is far more effective than a vocal filler.

5. Beware of land mines. Don't get pulled into an argument. Articulate the opposing view to show that you understand the point. Always maintain your composure. Take the objection seriously, but not personally. You can ask the room to agree to disagree on a point and defer to time constraints, the agenda, or getting back on topic to move the meeting forward.

6. Deal with hecklers. Be friendly, brief, direct, and positive. Never lose your cool. Acknowledge their passion and move on.

7. Handle dominant personalities. Break contact visually and call upon non-participatory members of the meeting, i.e., "I haven't heard from this side of the room;" "I need others to weigh in on this issue;" "Does anyone else have any additional comments?"

8. Own your room. What image do you want to project? Remain in control of the meeting. Project self-confidence and professionalism at all times. And remember, if you're a person with a future, don't dress like someone without one.

This content is written for EDC Communications.

What does EDC do? We create better communicators. Period.

Whether you're trying to grow as a leader, a presenter, an employee, a facilitator, a student, or a salesperson, we're here to help! We plant seeds of effective communication, help people stand tall with confidence, and inspire growth in professionals.

EDC Communications International is a proven source for speaker training and communication coaching. We're communication specialists who help you have fun learning to reach your training and development goals. Every program will provide you and your clients with superb, interactive learning opportunities.

Source: EzineArticles
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