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Meeting Facilitation Tips

The following meeting facilitation tips were submitted by John Godec of The Participation Company. As public sector consultants, The Participation Company helps government agencies manage public issues to accomplish agency objectives. Their private sector business clients are able to maintain or improve their relationships with the public and gain support for their projects.

Facilitating meetings can be both an art and a science when the issues being discussed are comparably complex. Getting the right people involved in the discussion from the start can go a long way in your being able to facilitate successfully. Inviting those “right” people is key to reaching consensus. But how to craft an effective invitation is not always a skill everyone has. Here are some meeting facilitation tips to help when creating meeting invitations:

Build Excitement
You want your invitation to create anticipation in the recipient. Craft an announcement to your event in a way that will make it feel more like an invitation to a special event. Those invited will be excited to attend and will feel honored to have been included.

Help People Decide
A successful invitation also gives those who are not interested in your event permission to miss it. Knowing those who do actually show up are those who really wanted to be there and that those who chose not to be there didn’t attend is sure to be a relief. Design your invitation to help people easily decide if they even want to be a part of the facilitation process. Facilitating such meetings is made easier when those who want to be there are the ones who attend.

Explain the Way it Works
If you’re trying to figure out how to facilitate a meeting or if you’re planning to host a series of events, describe the order in a way that lets people choose when they want to become engaged. Describing each event will help them feel like they aren’t missing opportunities along the way.

An example of how to accomplish this could be to:

  • explain how the event will affect the invited person, their family, and their community;
  • how the event will give those invited the chance to have a say in the way the project turns out, and which days they’ll need to attend in order to present their opinion or solution;
  • what the objective of each meeting will be, whether it will be a stating of the problem, a brainstorming session with others, or a resolution meeting.

Continue the Engagement
Just because the invitations have been sent doesn’t mean the excitement should end. Restating the purpose of the event during the opening remarks will help focus the discussions you as facilitator anticipate. Reminding attendees of the intended purpose of the event will also make it easier to refocus everyone if people stray off topic.

Happy Successful Facilitating
These meeting facilitation tips should help you create engaging invitations to public participation events, resulting in your facilitating successfully. No matter how effective a facilitator you are, invitations are an important way to make those events even more successful from the beginning.

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