Why Meetings Need Facilitators

Ever been in a meeting where the extroverts take over on every discussion?

Even if you’re one of them, like I have been, it’s still incredibly annoying for everyone. If we really believe that any person can make a significant difference in the group, then every person has to have an opportunity to share his or her thoughts without five other people stepping in to interrupt him or her.

The only realistic way that I know of to create this environment is to appoint someone to be the facilitator for that meeting or for that part of the meeting. That way everyone knows that the facilitator can interrupt people who barge in and tell them to wait. And then when it’s the appropriate time the facilitator can call on that person who barged in to share his or her thoughts. In the absence of a facilitator people will be on their best behaviors for awhile and then they will slowly start to talk whenever they feel like it. I’ve seen that pattern over and over in corporate meetings, in volunteer meetings, and in not-for-profit meetings. It is human nature to slowly start to talk whenever we want.

Finally, whoever the facilitator is should refrain from commenting on the discussion topic. Otherwise the temptation can be too great to avoid guiding the discussion in the direction he or she wants it to go. If you’re the facilitator, just facilitate, and know that you are serving an incredibly important role.

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