A Good Dose of Expert Facilitation

Meetings rule our lives and some meetings are more important, or weightier than others. For example, strategic planning meetings, or meetings in which new groups of people are meeting to discuss complex issues. Using an expert facilitator, someone who is outside of your organization, can result in these benefits:

  • Clearly defined meeting outcomes with measurable progress toward those goals
  • Deep discussions about critical issues
  • Engaged participants who know their unique contributions have been heard
  • Greater understanding of the issue or problem at hand
  • Clear decisions and action steps with participant buy-in

The best facilitators are process experts who know enough about the meeting content to appropriately structure the agenda and develop powerful questions for value-added discussions. They focus on how meetings are run, how to meaningfully engage participants, and how to achieve the desired outcomes. Responsibility for creating a safe and trusting environment in which everyone experiences respect for their ideas, lies with the facilitator. Addressing “sacred cows” is easier for an expert facilitator than for someone embedded in the history of the organization. Lastly, facilitators have the skills to manage equal levels of participation and effectively intervene when conflicts arise.

The cost of hiring an experienced facilitator can be a drawback. At the same time, it’s important to evaluate the cost of not hiring an outside facilitator. Discussions that veer away from strategy or spiral downward, “grand-standing” personalities, and lack of action steps at the conclusion of meetings are common to all of us. Using an expert facilitator to mitigate these universal experiences, and to gain the benefits mentioned above, is worth the investment.

In the recent past I have had the honor to facilitate meetings focused on gender equity in STEM. It is an incredible experience to bring together world experts from varying disciplines to collaborate and generate viable solutions to a real problem.  If you want someone to design and lead a productive meeting that engages your colleagues, focuses on issues of importance, and leads to action, I hope you will consider using my facilitation services.