The Basics of Facilitation

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By Michelle Golden - My last post talks about the importance of "facilitation" skills, particularly for professional firm marketers. These skills are also invaluable for firm administrators, HR, managing partners, niche group leaders, managers, and anyone else wanting to make their meetings more productive.

There is a handy little guide available for download on International Association of Facilitator's website called (hold onto your hat) "Basic Facilitation Skills." The clip-art is a little goofy, but the content is sound!

If you're thinking facilitators are just those people who make you hold hands in a circle and sing Kumbaya or do other touchy-feely team-building games, not necessarily so.

Facilitators get people organized enough, and focused enough, that they only come together when they need to, they do what needs to be done efficiently and effectively, and they become better at accountability for what they are to do between or after meetings.

A firm called Gurrie that I consulted with for five years (until they merged with a big firm) absolutely dreaded their meetings. And the meetings were long and tedious. They started to use a skilled facilitator (nope, it wasn't me, I was on the same side of the table as firm management) and, over the course of a few months, meeting frequency dropped dramatically BUT were also incredibly more productive. Moreover, the stuff between meetings actually started getting done.

Facilitation isn't a magic bullet--you still need a willing group--but can help in very tangible ways.

"Internal facilitator" is still a young career path, but most large and forward-thinking corporations, governments and NGOs, all have in-house people skilled at group facilitation. These groups understand the potential waste of unproductive meetings, and this is how they curb it. Give it a try.

Enjoy the booklet! And maybe take a class or's worth it.

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