What happens when you’re not set-up for facilitation success?

Panic

Last Thursday, I wrote about the 5 essential ingredients for a successful leadership meeting, strategic planning session or retreat.

More often than not, we’re asked to design and/or facilitate meetings in the absence of one or more of these essential ingredients. Recently, I asked two extremely experienced L&D practitioners what they’d do if they were missing some of these ingredients.  Continue reading

5 Models to Pull Out of Your Hat on a Moment’s Notice

About 10 years ago, I was sitting in a training session when the facilitator stopped the conversation, drew a diagram on the flipchart, and pivoted into a new conversation so seamlessly, it was like he had designed for the exact conversation we were having. Only, there’s no way he could have possibly known where our conversation would go that day.

A co-worker, awe-struck by how smoothly this facilitator worked through our issues, leaned over to me and whispered: “How amazing is it that this guy simply has a bunch of different models always in the back of his mind and can pull out the right one at exactly the right time?!”

At the time, I was still new to the corporate learning and development space, and in that moment I suddenly had something to aspire to: if I was going to be an effective, credible facilitator, I needed to have an array of models, ideas and theories I could bring into any conversation at a moment’s notice. Following are five models I always keep in my back pocket in case I need them, regardless of the topic:

  • In the event we need to explore a new concept: de Bono’s 6 Hat Thinking Model. Sometimes there is an individual (or group) that is vehemently opposed to a new idea or concept and unless I come up with some type of drastic measure quickly, this resistance can torpedo the entire conversation or project. de Bono’s 6 Hat Thinking Model is a non-threatening way for a group (or individual) to systematically look at an idea or concept from all sides. There is time to talk about the problems with an idea, and time to talk about the merits of the idea, and any data that exists, and any creative ways an idea can be put to use, and the idea within a larger system, and any emotional reasons someone may love or hate an idea.
  • In the event learning isn’t happening as fast as it should: the 4 Stages of Competence. Sometimes there is frustration that learning isn’t happening fast enough or there is disappointment that someone didn’t realize something sooner. The 4 Stage of Competence model is a 2×2 matrix that provides a simple explanation for how learning – in individuals and in organizations – generally happens.

4 Levels of Competence

  • In the event change isn’t happening as fast as it should: the Heath Brothers 3 Keys to Change Management. There are a lot of models for change management. John Kotter’s work is perhaps the most famous. However, I’ve found Kotter’s work to be very “academic” and difficult for audiences who are new to concepts of change management to completely wrap their arms around. Chip and Dan Heath have taken a look at many models of effective change management and boiled effective change management down into three essential elements: making a rational case for change, appealing to people’s core emotions, and providing structure for change to take place.
  • In the event a simple list of barriers and solutions won’t work: the Force-Field Analysis. I feel that simply making a list of barriers and solutions is too simplistic of an activity to really allow people to go back to their offices and get things done. I was introduced to the Force-Field Analysis in my master’s program during a course on strategic planning. A Force-Field Analysis forces an audience to think about all of the things that can drive a new initiative or project or idea forward, and all of the things that can restrain that same initiative or project or idea. Then an audience must discover all of the ways to remove or mitigate those “restraining forces” and come up with a specific action plan to address each restraining force.
  • In the event someone says “Why can’t we just tell them what they need to know?!”: a 4-step instructional design model. Simply telling someone does nothing to ensure they’ll retain it or use it later. There are many instructional design models out there, the most prevalent is ADDIE (which I argue is more of a project management model than instructional design model). This is the 4-step model I’ve come to embrace: 1) introduce content through some type of anchor activity, 2) provide the actual content, 3) offer an opportunity for application in the training environment and 4) provide learners specific ideas and ways they can use this content in the future. I honestly don’t know who came up with this model, but I’ve found it to be easy to explain to SMEs and effective in engaging audiences.

What are some of the models, tips, tools and tricks you keep in your back pocket when you’re facilitating? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.

4 Ways to Make Your Next Meeting a Better Use of Everyone’s Time

Have you ever been in a meeting that was simply mind-numbingly boring? Or worse, have you ever led a meeting that you were sure everyone else felt was mind-numbingly boring? Following are four ways to make better use of everyone’s time during your next meeting:

  1. Be sure to have an overall goal (and be sure everyone attending knows that goal). When people attend your meeting(s), they’re taking time out of their schedules (and their lives) to be with you. If your meeting is 60 minutes long, make sure everyone in attendance knows what “success” for your meeting will look like at the end of the 60 minutes you’ve spent together. One example could be: “At 10am, when we walk out the door, we will have identified the primary benefit of our new customer relations software for each division in the company.”

Identifying the overall goal is essential even for regular team meetings, since that primary goal will probably change from week to week. When a primary goal isn’t clearly articulated, everyone is left to assume they know the purpose of the meeting. Is the meeting simply for information sharing (and if so, why is it important that everyone pay attention; what’s the value in sharing the information)? Is the meeting to brainstorm? Is the meeting to prepare for and align on another (bigger, more important) meeting?

  1. Have an agenda. An agenda provides much-needed structure to the meeting. A detailed agenda can lend a helping hand to meeting efficiency by making sure everyone in attendance is clear on what will be covered, who will cover it, how much time will be allocated for each topic and what is expected from everyone else. Click here for a sample. Added bonus: sending your agenda out at least 48 business hours in advance (ie: don’t send it on a Friday and expect people to prepare for a Monday morning meeting) helps all attendees prepare for what will be expected of them and it demonstrates to your attendees that you’ve put some time and thought into the meeting. Click here for a blank meeting agenda template.
  2. Set some M/P/V goals. I was introduced to this concept about a year ago and it has done wonders for how much I can get out of meetings – both 1:1 meetings as well as meetings with small and large groups. M/P/V stands for:
  • Minimum: What’s the very least that should come out of any given meeting topic?
  • Primary: What’s the expected outcome of any given topic?
  • Visionary: If you were given one wish, what would you wish could come from any given topic?

For example, if I’m meeting with a client with whom I haven’t spoken with in quite some time, my M/P/V goal for this meeting might look like this:

  • M: Re-engage with David in order to remind him that we exist and have done some good work together in the past.
  • P: Begin discussions on working with David on a new project at some point in the next six months.
  • V: Sign a new contract to begin working with David on a current project.

M/P/V goals can (and should) also be set for each topic of recurring meetings like team and staff meetings. Perhaps an “M” goal should always be: Ensure my attendees aren’t mind-numbingly bored!

  1. Have a presentation plan for anything that is not merely informational. Your presentation plan may simply be a few bullet-pointed notes on the back of a napkin or, if you really want to be a meeting pro and have a high degree of engagement, you could use a more formal presentation plan (click here for a sample presentation plan).

The key to better engagement during meetings is to be intentional about how you plan to engage your meeting attendees. If you need some help organizing your thoughts, click here for a blank meeting presentation plan template.

Each of these four suggestions take time (some steps take a lot more time than others). Taking some time to be intentional about the way you go about your meetings can make the actual time spent in the meeting more valuable for everyone involved.

Looking for some ideas about what good interaction during a meeting could look like? Try this previous post:

Know of someone else who’d like to get some ideas on how better to use everyone’s time during a meeting? Pass this along!

As for you, if you want access to a steady stream of articles to help improve your presentation skills then you should probably follow this blog.