Facilitation [root=Facil] means 'to make easy,' so it is a facilitator’s role to begin with articulating the goals of the meeting and, only then, to design the meeting using a variety of methods or processes to meet the needs of the group. For example, a meeting designed for group feedback on a plan is different than a meeting with the intent to create a plan. The facilitator must consider the needs of the meeting, the role of the participants towards the goal of the meeting, know group process and appropriate design to accomplish it and be able to articulate this to the group. This includes authentically and respectfully engaging meeting participants, attending to questions, keeping the meeting on track, and providing time for respectful discussions that leads to a shared understanding, consensus, decisions, next steps, or a plan.
Before each meeting that I plan I ask my client questions that get to the purpose of the meeting.
By the end of the meeting what do you want the group to know, learn, discover, explore or decide?
Why are we having these discussions?
Example response: To arrive at consensus about the next steps we will take.
Usually I get a number of responses to this question. This is called the 'Rational Aim' of the meeting.
Then I ask: How do you want the group to experience as a result of their participation?
Example response: Participants are excited and committed to implement the plan.
Again, I usually get at least 2-3 responses to this question. This is called the 'Experiential Aim' of the meeting.
I write out their answers on the front page of the meeting design plan. After I have designed the meeting, I go back and ask myself- will my design accomplish these goals? If not, I redesign to make sure it does. It is kind of a quality control check on my design.
At the meeting, I let the participants know we are doing x and this is what will be done with this decision. This way people are clear about the purpose and next steps.
My business is called Meeting Intentions, and as you can see- I’m pretty clear about meeting the intentions of the client at each meeting.