With so much advice and information available on effective meetings it might seem strange that people still complain that meetings are a waste of time. One explanation might be that most meetings lack a facilitator – someone with no agenda of their own, whose role is to ensure that the group’s objectives are met and who will help with the flow of the meeting.
Recently I attended a facilitation course organised by the ICA:UK. The course introduced two methods: the Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop method. After two intensive days in London (the venue was very nice – the National Council for Voluntary Organisations located next to Regent’s canal) having observed, discussed and practiced the two methods I feel much more confident in facilitating meetings.
The course was filled with some interesting practice topics for group facilitation. I especially enjoyed the group work on ideas for dealing with disruptive behaviour in a group and discussing what can be done to make teamwork more effective. It was really interesting to see that the collective intelligence and the ideas we came up with were better than our individual ones.
I also really enjoyed leaving my desk and day-to-day job and meeting a new group of very interesting people from various backgrounds. It was great to observe other facilitators and learn from them. Our trainer Ghee Bowman kept us engaged for the whole two days – we had a really wide variety of activities, also getting active and out of our comfort zones.
The course made me reflect on my own facilitation style and gave ideas on how I can do things differently in future. It also made me think about the role of the facilitator and how the neutrality is sometimes undermined by the fact that people are asked to fill in both roles: to participate in a meeting and give ideas but also to facilitate others.
Overall I feel that the methods I mastered during the course will allow me to achieve much improved meeting experience for all involved and hopefully get some amazing Return on Time Invested feedback!