Become a successful meeting facilitator

Posted by Nanna Manbjerg Rasmussen
on January 27, 2016

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Ib Ravn is an Associate Professor at Aarhus University who does research on meetings and meeting culture. He is in no doubt about what foster good meetings – a good facilitator.
 
This is the second of a three part series of posts featuring Ib Ravn.


Types of managers

There is more than one type of manager, states Ib Ravn. From one extreme to the other is the democratic manager and the authoritarian manager. The authoritarian manager is a strong presence, he might attend the meeting and brief participants for an hour before leaving. The meeting is characterized by the attendees not being included. The democratic manager is the complete opposite. He thinks of the meeting as a place where everyone is allowed to state their opinion and he wants to hear his every employee, which causes the meeting to drag out.  

 

The facilitator is the perfect chairperson

The ideal manager of meetings has aspects of both extremes. Both the leading, result oriented and authoritarian manager and also the inclusive, friendly and democratic manager. The types combined is called a facilitator, states Ib Ravn. The meeting facilitator includes the attendees without letting them talk for hours. A way to include attendees could be by letting them debate in smaller groups for a couple of minutes, making it possible for everyone to get a say. Afterwards you can ask the attendees to summarize the most essential things they discussed.

Have you read last weeks post featuring Ib Ravn "Meetings: we attend too many and talk too much"?

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Can you become a facilitator?

Yes, you can! According to Ib Ravn it is learning by doing. He has identified one particular challenge,  that many managers experience.  


“Many are challenged by the fact that they have to take control of other people, especially colleagues.”


Nevertheless, it is necessary that you take on responsibility and direct the meeting, in an appreciative and inclusive way. Ib Ravn underlines that it is essential to remember, that the attendees want to perform their best, when this does not occur it is because the meeting is derailed. The facilitator must ensure that the participants leave the meeting with a sense of strength and power of accomplishing the aims, every time.

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Ib Ravn’s advice on how to facilitate better meetings

“Acquire a facilitator! or request the chairperson to rise to the occasion. Feel the energy, be observe the attendees. Managers are challenged in doing so, because of their democratic approach. The attendees want to perform their best and the chairperson should motivate them to do so.”
 
Do you want to know more about how you include your attendees? Get Ib Ravn’s best advice in the third part of this blog series: How to hold effective meetings by better including the participants.

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Topics: Productivity