“PAC₃E”: Consistency in facilitation requires knowing techniques

We are progressing through INIFAC’s (inifac.org) six overarching facilitator competencies: Presence, Assessment, Communication, Control, Consistency and Engagement.

Number 5 is Consistency: “Master Facilitators understand and consistently apply best practice techniques for such activities as starting the session, focusing the group, recording information, and closing the session.”

  1. Facilitator understands and consistently applies best practice techniques for starting the session.

My fellow Certified Master Facilitator and INIFAC Board member, Michael Wilkinson, has a great curriculum for learning and mastering facilitation. In one of his weekly blog articles (https://www.leadstrat.com/tuesdays-master-facilitation-tip-ieei/), Michael says:

Consider this: at the beginning of a meeting, people typically want to know TWO things, so how you start should answer these two things right away.

1. Why am I here?

2. Why should I care?

In our courses, The Effective Facilitator and Facilitating Masterful Meetings, we teach the importance of answering these two questions first – before diving into other areas.  To help ensure that the two questions are answered well, we use the abbreviations “IEEI” as a reminder of the things to include in your opening to start a meeting.

Inform: Let the participants know the purpose of the meeting and the product to be produced.

Excite: Explain the benefits of the meeting and why this meeting should be important to them.

Empower: Describe the role they will play or the authority that has been given to them.

Involve: Get them involved immediately through an engagement question that furthers the meeting purpose.

Unfortunately, meeting leaders often start meetings by reviewing the agenda—if they have one—and diving straight into the first agenda item. As a result, participants often aren’t sure of the purpose of the meeting, the products to be produced, why the meeting is beneficial, or why the meeting should be important to them. In essence, meetings often begin with an ineffective start that can negatively affect the rest of the meeting.

3. Facilitator understands and consistently applies best practice techniques for focusing and controlling the group.

Leverage your Presence, your Control, your personality, your voice, your body (get up, move around) and your keen listening and observing skills to apply everything you’ve learned in life to keep the group focused.

4. Facilitator understands and consistently applies best practice techniques for recording information.

Our team uses “Live Notes” projected on a screen (or Shared screen, if virtual) and a combination of Word and Excel to capture the essence of the meeting. Everyone can see and correct it and we never have to send out drafts for correction. One and done. For simpler meetings, a flip chart on which we record Decisions or a large sheet of plotter paper on which we draw a Fishbone Diagram for Root Cause Analysis are excellent. For virtual collaboration, Miro or Mural with post-it functionality works; and the work product can be printed to a PDF. If you’re documenting inside a piece of project management software, that might pose challenges; don’t drag down the meeting while you fumble. Have a backup: Word or pen and paper. Whatever you use, try to avoid duplication and waste. Capture actionable essentials, not a court transcript.

5. Facilitator understands and consistently applies best practice techniques for closing the session.

OUR GO-TO’S: Review Decisions made, review Action Items (with person responsible and due date), do a Plus/Delta (What did you like about this meeting? How can we improve next time?) and finish with Round Robin 2-10 word Takeaways, “What’s the Big Idea from today you’re walking with?” This gives all participants that one last chance to speak and nearly always ends on positive, encouraging words from the group.

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