Meeting facilitation skills are important in the business environment. People who are good at facilitating or leading meetings conduct very effective meetings. In well facilitated meetings there is little waste of time and highly productive results. Therefore it is instrumental to the success of business to understand what is required to make a great meeting. To help build meeting success, below are four things a meeting facilitator or leader needs to do for a truly effective meeting.

1. Understand your role as meeting facilitator. As meeting facilitator you are responsible for insuring that an agenda is set and meeting processes are agreed to by the meeting members. As the meeting continues, you make sure the agenda and processes are adhered to, while suggesting additional problem solving or idea generating process when need to unblock the group from accomplishing the meeting purpose.

2. Make sure you have a meeting agenda prepared in advance. Providing a proposed agenda (with timeframes for each topic) at the beginning of the meeting and getting group agreement prevents the meeting from going off-track. The agreed to agenda can then be used to refocus the group and prevent loss of control during the meeting. Although it may sometimes be better to change an agenda to cover urgent items, this should be done at the beginning of the meeting with the agreement of all present before the meeting continues.

3. Always have a record of your meeting and assign a recorder. The meeting record should contain all idea generation, decision-making, and other discussions in a way that is visible to all members while the meeting is going on. Having a visible record using marker boards or flip charts often keeps members from repeating themselves to make sure they are heard. It also helps to bring members back into focus on the current topic if someone begins to stray away from agreed upon subject. To help with making sure records are captured, another person may be assigned the recorder roles. A recorder is not only responsible for compiling the minutes of the meeting, but also for publishing and distributing them in a timely manner to all meeting members in order for them to take appropriate actions.

4. Capture and assign action items for meeting follow-up. During the meeting, have a visible location where all actions are listed as they come up. This way, if the facilitator or recorder misses the action during discussion, one of the meeting members will likely recommend it be added to the list. At the end of the meeting, make sure someone volunteers to complete an action or is assigned the action until all actions are given out. Also, be sure to assign a deadline as to when actions are to be done. Having a deadline and publishing actions in minutes encourages people to get things done in order to keep projects moving and not disappoint the group.

People who are good at facilitating or leading meetings not only conduct effective meetings but they aid the organization by wasting little time and increasing group productivity. If a meeting facilitator or leader wants an effective meeting, then the four things listed above should be helpful in accomplishing better meetings. This list of things will increase the chances of a successful meeting by helping facilitator or leader to improve their knowledge related to the business of holding meetings.

NOTES: The four items listed in this article are summarized from the book “R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard’s Approach” by Shirley Fine Lee, copyright 2007. See also ” Ten Mistakes Meeting Leaders Make ” and some of the consequences of making those mistakes.