Facilitation 101: An introduction

Part 1 in the Facilitation series.

Time is so precious! It’s easy to feel like we don’t do any “real” work because we’re in meetings all day, but meetings are real work! They require a lot of effort and energy. If facilitated properly, they are an effective use of time. If not planned effectively, they hinder productivity. This series will explore meeting facilitation- how to make meetings great versus terrible wastes of time.

Think about the really frustrating, exhausting, and disappointing meetings you’ve  experienced. What makes them so bad? The list is long……

  • Critical people weren’t invited
  • Non-critical people were invited and took up space and time
  • Goal of meeting wasn’t clear
  • Started late and ran late
  • Location didn’t meet the team’s needs
  • Participants who weren’t prepared
  • Participants who talked off-sides or weren’t paying attention
  • Interrupters
  • No wrap up or path forward coming out of the meeting
  • Sidetracking or derailing from meeting objective (also known as “scope creep”)The trick here is that you can’t have scope creep until you have a scope, which is a separate failure in many a bad meeting, leading to jokes like this t-shirt:


and meetings that make you want to stab your eyes out, and songs like Time Pirate by Tacocat:

“Time pirate, you’ve robbed me of my day. I’d rather walk the plank than hear what else you have to say.”

Now think about the really good, productive meetings you’ve experienced. What makes them so good? Why do they feel satisfying and productive? What makes a meeting great? The list is short:

  • Preparation
  • Awesome people

Next post: Facilitation 102


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