Strategic Facilitation and Training   

  • 31 Jul 2016 11:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You have seen them.  They are the people that always have a different opinion.   They know the ONLY way to do something.  They don't want to even consider another way.  We have all worked with them.   Everyone wants to know how do we deal with that type of person? 


    Before you can deal with that type of person, you need to look at why do they take that hard stance?    What is it that makes them feel that they are right?

    Generally, people take a difficult stance for one or more of the following reasons:

     

    1. They experienced a similar situation before that was not successful and are convinced this will not be successful either so why are you wasting my time.
    2. They don't have enough "context" information to see the big picture.  Their scope of knowledge is only a portion of the entire problem, situation or project.
    3. They may have some personal issues that they are dealing with that prevent them from fully participating.  
    4. They are afraid that they will appear weak among their peers and reports.  They have a need to always be right. 
    5. They are afraid of failure.  If you don't do it my way it won't work and then I will be responsible anyway. 


    These are just a few of the real reasons that people behave in a difficult manner.   I believe there are underlying issues for most people when they behave in this way.  Your meetings need to be structured to mitigate these behaviors.   You may not be able to prevent them all but you can certainly start to establish a process to reduce them.  Here are just a few suggestions. 


    1. Be sure that the people you have in the meeting are there for a reason.  Don't invite everyone.  Invite only those that need to participate.  If you have a group of people that simply need to be "in the know" send them a memo.   Otherwise, you will be wasting time. 
    2. Let the group share what they feel the desired outcome of the meeting should be.  What would they consider "success" of the meeting.  Each person may have a totally different idea of why they are even at the meeting.  
    3. When you see bad behavior do something.   Move around the room, go stand by the person who is having the side conversation. They will stop. 
    4. Be sure you have enough small group discussions built into the meeting so that they have a chance to share information with their neighbors. 
    5. Have a defined, interesting and engaging agenda and discussion.   If the participants at the meeting are able to check their email while in the meeting, you have room to improve your meeting and agenda planning.  Participants should not be interested in checking their email ( unless they are on call or in need) and should be drawn to the meeting. They should know that they are a part of the meeting and their voices and input is important.  

    One of skills that is growing in demand is "facilitation" skills.  To be adapt at designing and facilitating meetings takes training and research.  ICA-USA and ICA-Associates, Canada have spent decades developing facilitation training based on successful implementation of those methods.   Consider taking one of the two upcoming classes offered by ICA-USA and ICA-Canada.  ICA-USA  ToP TM Facilitation Methods will show you two methods (Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop) and one process ( Action Planning).   The ICA-Canada class will show you how to determine the "right" people to have in the room, develop agendas,  room set up, flip chart tips , 72 activities to use in your meetings and how to deal with difficult people.   

    Here are the links to the 2 Florida classes.  Each are 2 day workshops.   

    • Top Facilitation Methods - ICA - USA,   http://bit.ly/1Udds20  
    • Making Meetings Work - ICA - Associates  http://bit.ly/2aCt5iL


  • 24 Jul 2016 11:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    No matter how much you prepare in advance for a meeting,  each person has different expectations of what would mean a successful outcome of the meeting.    Each participant brings with them their own experiences, knowledge and ideas.  If you give participants an opportunity to share their idea of what success looks like, you will not only give each of them an opportunity to have their voice heard and know what a successful outcome would mean to them.   

    Example:  If you are facilitating a meeting to evaluate a current practice for improvement, some potential outcomes may be:   "Identify what practices need to be change, added or deleted"  or  a different outcome may be, "Create a who new set of practices" .  If someone is anticipating the project to be completed at the end of the meeting and the actual outcome is just a "step" in that direction, they will be disappointed.  

    The following exercise will help you to gain clarity on what the participants expectations are of the meeting.  

    Procedures in person:

    1. Ask each person to write down their thoughts in answer to,  "At the end of this meeting, how will we know it was a success?" 
    2. Ask each person to write 2 or 3 statements that answer the question,  "What needs to occur during this meeting for those outcomes to be met?"   
    3. Have the group get into pairs and discuss what they think needs to occur and each pair select 3 things from their list for the meeting to be successful. 
    4. Either have them write them on half sheets or large post its.  Collect the sheets or post it and put them up on the wall in front of the room and read them as you place them. 
    5. Or have the teams read to you their top items per pair and list on a flip chart. 
    6. You can refer back to this chart at the end of the meeting reflecting on how well you achieved the desired outcomes. 

    Procedures for virtual meeting with and without break out rooms: 

    1. Post the first question and ask everyone to write down at their desk the answer to question number one. 
    2. Ask the second question and ask them to write their answers on a piece of paper at the desks (individual brainstorming step)
    3. Place them into break out rooms and ask them to come up with 2 or 3 items per room that need to be accomplished for this meeting to be successful using their brainstorm lists with either chat boxes or white boards.
    4. Bring them all back to the main room and ask each group to report out posting their top items on a chat box. 
    5. Keep this chat box handy for referring to later at the end of the meeting. 
    6. If there are no break out rooms available ask the participants to star their most important "need" on the paper list and put that into the chat box to answer the second question.
    7. You can refer back to this chart at the end of the meeting reflecting on how well you achieved the desired outcomes. 

    Attribution:  Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs Meetings That Work,  Jo Nelson's Meeting Tools,  IAF Methods Online Database,  Rosemary Pell, Pell & Pell Systems, Inc. Ontario Canada

    For more tools like this consider attending the Tallahassee location of Meetings That Work,  2 day workshop developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs Canada. This is the first time this class will be offered to the public in the USA. 


  • 04 Jul 2016 4:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Virtual meetings are becoming more common than in person meetings today.  I personally facilitate over 20 standings meetings per month for committees or training opportunities.  My goal is to engage each person on the call and make them feel as though they contributed to the outcome of the meeting.  

    I was once a participant on a virtual call and I was able to mute my phone and vacuum my office without ever having to un-mute.  The presenter read each of the slides on the screen and I didn't even have to look at the slides.  I often wondered why they didn't just send them out to everyone to view on their own time.  If they were worried that no one would view them, they could offer a contest for answering questions related to the content.  I felt that it was a waste of my time and hope to lead a meeting like that.

    Here are some quick tips for your next virtual meeting or training.

    Hardware

    • Use a wired Internet connection
    • Power off any devices using the internet that are not necessary that are using the same internet connection
    • Reboot your computer 2 hours before the broadcast time
    • Close any programs that you do not need to have open
    • Use a secondary "participant" computer to see what your participants see
      Use a headset and microphone
    • If you are using a headset and microphone, mute your computer speakers to avoid feedback
    • Develop your meeting based on the lowest common denominator of technology savvy
    • If you are not recording the meeting, use a separate phone line for audio 
      Use an audio service that allows administrator to mute lines
    • Power off your cell phone. 
      if you need to leave your cell phone on for messages, do not put it near your computer.

    At the conclusion

    • Send your participants a survey asking for feedback
    • Don't start a private conversation with other hosts or presenters at the end.  You may still have participants listening that have not logged out.


    Procedures

    • Greet the participants with a friendly opening.  
    • Do not let them sit in silence wondering if they are in the right place
    • Allow participants to chat with each other - do not disable that function unless you are embarrassed about how few participants you have. 
    • Ask your presenter to give you a backup copy of their presentation.  If their internet connection fails, you can continue the presentation running the presentation from your computer while they are on a phone line giving the audio portion. 
    • Have the presentation available in two formats.  If you are using a powerpoint, convert it to a pdf as a back up.  The "transitions" and "movies" will not play but you will not have to cancel your event due to a bad file format in powerpoint.
    • Scale your pictures.  Screen resolution is 72 dpi.  Cameras now take photos at 600 dpi and higher. The higher the resolution the bigger the file. Just because you "scale" the photo down when you placed it into the file, the program still "loads" the full size file and then scales it, resulting in additional bandwidth unnecessarily used. Scale your photos before you place them to make the file size the smallest.
    • Don't use "transitions".  You are not trying to "entertain" the participants.  You are conveying knowledge and creating a community of learning, so don't include anything that doesn't meet that objective.  Transitions do nothing but make people dizzy and take up additional memory. 

    Presenter tips

    • Practice in advance "live" with your presenter. 
    • Instruct them to practice from the location of which they will be presenting.  If they do a practice with you from their office with a fiber internet connection and they are live from a hotel with wifi on your broadcast day, it will not go well. 

    Meetings less that 20 people with participant audio

    • Start your meeting with a basic question of interest, such as "where are you today and what do you see out your window?"  This gives you a chance to hear their audio connection quality and predict any issues. 

    Keeping participants engaged

    • Integrate the participants into the process.  Ask them to read from the screen. 
    • Plan your event such that participants that are not using the visual can still hear the audio and participate. 
    • Vary the voices that are heard by asking participants to read a portion of what is on the screen.   This also keeps them paying attention as they may be worried about you asking them to read. 

    Practice and use available technology

    • Technology is great but be an expert at it before you use it.   Many on line services offer "breakout" rooms, collaborative discussions, pop up windows so you can direct all participants to a specific web page that opens on their computer, down loadable files and music on hold. 
    • Online gaming is great and very interactive. 
    • Before you roll out one of these tools be sure you assess your capabilities,  the bandwidth of your audience, your audience's expected technical capabilities and lastly practice, practice, practice prior to going live. 


    Meetings without participant audio
    Of course, do not offer a dial in phone option, you don't need one.  I have been on a call where you had to dial into a phone line but were never un-muted. I could have listened through my computer speakers and text any questions.

    Use polling questions to keep participants engaged.
    Ask participants to answer questions using a chat box.  Some platforms (Adobeconnect) will offer multiple chats that can be topic specific as well as person to person private chats.

    What tips do you have to add to this list?

  • 26 Mar 2016 9:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nothing could be further from the truth, but so many times that is the impression we give people when we refuse to seek others opinions and input.

    Many times we “think” we know the answer to our questions.  Therefore, we don’t ask.  We feel that we understand other situations so well that we don’t need to ask them.   We don’t need to survey them.  We don’t need to tell others  what they think is important.

    When you don’t seek out feedback you are missing out on….

    1. Letting others know that you value what they think.
    2. Taking the time to put yourself in others “shoes”, empathize with them, their situation and points of view. You may even get a “new view” yourself.
    3. Asking for others opinions, and listening with intention to what they say.  Seeking to understand the meaning in their words.
    4. You miss the opportunity to develop a trusting friendship. Showing that you value someones’ opinion is the truest form of appreciation and respect.

    When you fail to ask others what they think, you are short-changing yourself.  You have only one set of experiences  to base your assumptions on….your experiences.  Everyone experiences life differently, has different realities and different answers.  It is up to you to invite others to share their point of view and their answers.  You may even surprise yourself with the answers you receive.  You may find out you really don’t know it all.

  • 26 Mar 2016 9:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What is your meaning of ICEBREAKER? For most, it is an activity designed to familiarize the group with each other. Sometimes it goes like this. “Tell me your name, your role and why you are here today?”. Be careful that you don’t start the the meeting off with data that everyone already knows. If you are facilitating a group of people who know each other, you don’t need to introduce them to each other or ask them why they are there. Most likely they are there because someone told them to come and I”m not sure you want to start off your meeting with those answers! You don’t want them to say, “here we go again, another stupid meeting”.

    Keep in mind the participants, and their familiarity with each other. The ice breaker is meant to get people used to speaking aloud in the group and to be comfortable with their voice. If someone speaks during a meeting in the beginning, they are more likely to contribute throughout the meeting.

    Designing a meeting is like writing a play. Each scene is carefully crafted. The difference is that the actors write their own scripts! You, as a facilitator need to consider what do you want the group to achieve at the end of this meeting and how do you want them to be different or evolve as a result of this event.

    Design your “icebreaker” to have meaning that contributes to the outcome of the meeting. If you are meeting over a project that has just been completed, your “ice breaker” can be a discussion around what do the participants remember most about the project. It could be a reflection on how has this project completion affected them or their departments?

    If you are looking for “ice breaker” activities, consider the “reason” you are doing it. Is there a communication problem with the group? If so, an ice breaker than brings to light communication problems that can then be discussed as a group, and takes the “blame” off the group for having bad communication. They may recognize habits they personally experience during the discussion and debrief and you can then develop a list of what makes “meaning and effective communication”?

    Think about each of your activities and write down on paper, what do you hope to achieve by each one? It will shed some sun light on your design and keep your ice breaker from melting in the sun.

Dougherty, Inc.
2388 SE 17th Terr., Homestead, Fl  33035
Phone:  888-400-1029  Email:  Laurie@Dougherty-Inc.com

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