HOW TO FACILITATE A MEETING Before the Meeting Effective facilitation has three main components to each meeting; before the meeting, during the meeting and after the meeting. As a facilitator for a Building Committee or workplace meeting it is important to ask the following questions in initial preparatory stage, prior to the meeting. Ask: What is the goal of this meeting? What needs to be discussed or decided to achieve that goal? Develop a draft agenda; be sure to include an item for other business so attendees can contribute items to discuss. Prepare an agenda that lists the desired outcome of the meeting, the specific items to be discussed, who will lead particular parts of the meeting, and how long discussion for each item should take. Invite members and fellow activists! In collaboration with your Staff Liaison and Zone Coordinator AMAPCEO can help to send out a formal invite but you can also circulate your own personalized one. Discuss with your Staff Liaison how to access an activist/member list (this will require signing a confidentiality form). A few ways to invite members and increase participation Approach people individually in the workplace during a break, a walk around or at lunch and talk to them about why you think the meeting is important and why their attendance is important. Try and get people involved in the process. Ask for their view on the draft agenda, if they could ‘present’ or lead a discussion on a small (5 min max) issue/action item (Being involved should mean more than just attending the meeting; it will also mean that they are more interested in the outcomes of the meeting). Advertise that a certain kind of information is ONLY available at the meeting (For example ‘At the meeting we will discuss next steps for X’ or ‘we will announce important updates on the campaign so please come out to the meeting’). Respect people’s time by starting and finishing at the time you said you would. If the meeting is a regularly scheduled one survey invitees for best time and place. Send out a pre-meeting reminder. At the Meeting Be sure to have all members introduce themselves and sign in! This can be done be a simple go-around, be sure to integrate something fun. For example, tell us your name, your branch, and your favourite colour/animal/time of day/food etc. Be sure to keep an attendance list, get everyone to sign in and confirm contact information, keep these lists for your records for later mobilization efforts and provide the information to your Staff Liaison or Zone Coordinator. Designate a note taker/minute taker; it is important that the facilitator not take on this task and focus on the role of facilitation. Boundaries. Set out the time frame for the meeting and explain the goals and aims of the meeting, review the agenda and how you will take a speakers list if needed. Make a group agreement (see box below). Pass out or display the agenda. Group Agreements: Group agreements are guidelines to ensure that your group has a structure that every participant can follow. Agreements can range from “We agree to respect each member of our group equally and ensure a diversity of voices are heard before making a decision” to much more extensive lists of guidelines that group can collectively develop. Any meeting guideline should be displayed somewhere in the room that everyone can see or put on the top of the agenda and reviewed in the intro welcome of the facilitator. During the Meeting Be sure to follow the agenda, don’t jump from item to item unless a different order is agreed to. As each topic is discussed create action items (with what needs to be done, how to do it, who with help with task, and by when; at the end of the meeting these should be reviewed and noted in the minutes as a reminder for everyone and those who could not attend the meeting. Pay attention to who is talking and try to ask follow up questions to those who are participating less. Listen, summarize, synthesize. Remember, as a facilitator it is not your job to determine the discussion but rather to listen to ideas on the agenda items, keep participants focused on the specific discussion item, summarize points, and synthesize the information you are hearing to assist the group in moving forward to make a decision or action plan. Summarizing and Synthesizing: Try asking questions like ‘What I hear you saying is…Is that right?’ or ‘It seems like you feel…?’ or “Can you tell the group more about your idea and how it would work?” This will move the conversation forward by boiling down key points but will also allow clarifying points to be added or rephrasing to happen. Wrap up Give an oral summary of what was discussed, and agreed to. Explain next steps and reiterate who is responsible for them and by when. Make sure someone is responsible for circulating notes or minutes to those that attended and anyone that sent regrets. Set a tentative date for next meeting. After the Meeting Send out a copy of the notes or minutes. Check in with the Staff Liaison and Zone Coordinator to provide any updates if they were not present at the meeting. Follow up with anyone who agreed to a particular task to be sure they have all the information needed to complete their task. Send out an email reminding people of next major steps and when they can expect to hear from you about updates and the next meeting.
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