About Us

Meeting Facilitators have one of the most experienced teams in the industry.  Not just in running meetings but in business and organisations.  Whilst we don’t go into “expert mode” whilst facilitating, we allow that experience to guide us in guiding you.  So we challenge ideas and plans to help you sort the good from the bad.  We share experiences from some of the many companies we have worked with who may have had some similar issues to those we are working on.  We call this informed facilitation.

Each member brings his or her own style, methodologies and skill set.  We often work together and collaborate.  So when you choose us, you will often have a small invisible team offering creative and business input on your event behind the scenes.  You will always be offered the facilitator who brings the appropriate interaction style, industry and subject matter knowledge and experience.

Approach

We practice many methodologies because there are many situations.  We bring you the most fitting; we don’t merely fit you to our model.  We are flexible to work with our or your framework and we are inventive enough to develop one bespoke for each situation.

Experience

Between us, we have experience of hundreds of industries, businesses of every size, for and not-for-profit organisations and many situations.  But we recognise that your situation is as unique as your fingerprint.  We draw on experience as a starting point and build purposeful, engaging productive events that participants love.

How we work

Meeting Facilitators is led by Jim McLaughlin.  He has worked personally with all of the team, often in co-facilitation sessions.  Jim will be the first point of contact, will talk through your needs and make the best arrangements for you.

What is a Facilitator?

A Facilitator helps a group to get things done.  We are regularly asked to help groups to:

  • Create a business plan
  • Plan a new product or service development and commercialization
  • Define a continuous improvement plan
  • Resolve a conflict
  • Plan a change of direction
  • Improve the customer journey
  • Improve service design and co-ordination
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Evaluate an acquisition or investment proposal
  • Integrate an acquisition
  • Plan a project
  • Learn lessons from a project or service failure

To do this, a facilitator has to be able to understand:

  • The context such as market conditions
  • The group’s goals, resolving any conflicts of objective along the way
  • The formal and informal relationships between the participants in the groups
  • The history of the group and the individuals and their relationships
  • The competitors and their relative strengths and weaknesses
  • The regulatory environment and any other constraints
  • Any technologies or processes concerned in service delivery
  • Business planning frameworks and methodologies
  • The financial dynamics of the business

Facilitation Skills

The types of skill a group meeting facilitator needs are the ability to

  • Design an agenda that gets the outcome desired
  • Create an event that is engaging for the participants
  • Get the group settled and comfortable
  • Ask questions that assist the group to make progress
  • Stay quiet when the group is working well and making good progress
  • Develop activities that shortcut too much conversation and get to the heart of the matter
  • Introduce materials and content that is useful for participants such as research, case studies, methodologies without overloading participants
  • Identify and frame problems for intensive work
  • Help the group to work creatively when this is needed
  • Help the group to move into a more logical mode when it is helpful to do so
  • Provide frameworks for the group to work methodically through the issues
  • Use technologies appropriately (such as collaborative online writing tools) to capture materials from participants
  • Help the group to plan change, ensuring clear responsibilities are taken
  • Keep the group motivated, particularly when working on tricky issues
  • Keep the group in a good place emotionally – help there to be more light than heat!
  • Write up the meeting and its’ outputs in a way that is useful to participants as they start to implement

The benefits of Using a Facilitator

  • Your meetings will be more productive and focused on change.
  • You will make clear, better quality decisions more quickly.
  • You will make clear commitments and pre-dispose participants to enacting the changes you plan.
  • Facilitators often have years of experience at running groups and know how to make your time together effective.    They provide an objective and neutral service to the group, not siding with any participant or sub-grouping.   They can often help to overcome dysfunctional dynamics within groups and can be very skilled at de-escalating conflict or directing negative energy into a positive purpose.
  • Where appropriate, they can bring covert conflict to the surface where it can be dealt with constructively.   Participants will engage more enthusiastically when a group is well-facilitated by an external person.   It leaves you and all other colleagues free to work on the content of the meeting, free of the responsibility of running it.
  • A facilitator can ask the challenging and potentially awkward questions that may be embarrassing for a member of the group to ask;
  • an artfully and diplomatically channel more verbose participants into being more succinct. make sure everyone is heard;
  • listen to what is not being said and tease it out where helpful to do so.

Common facilitator mistakes

  • Failure to agree meaningful objectives and deliverables, settling for second-rate thinking
  • Taking a briefing from only one side in a contentious situation
  • Regarding one person or grouping as a client and not the whole group
  • Designing an event to only deliver a pre-determined outcome rather than openly exploring options where appropriate to do so
  • Moving into expert mode rather than facilitative mode. This happens when the facilitator uses their own knowledge, experience and views in preference to those of participants.
  • Moving out of question mode and into speech mode.
  • Withholding whatever their intuition is telling them needs to be voiced
  • Avoiding conflict as opposed to working on it constructively
  • Designing and agenda that is crushingly boring with insufficient active elements (people can only sit down for so long)
  • Going over old ground (because of lack of understanding of history or clear focus on what needs to be achieved)
  • Including “fun” activities for their own sake whilst neglecting the main objectives (better to design fun into meaningful activities)
  • Patronising the group

Definitions of Facilitation

Cambridge Dictionary:  someone who helps a person or organization do something more easily or find the answer to a problem, by discussing things and suggesting ways of doing things.

Wikipedia:  A facilitator is someone who engages in the activity of facilitation. They help a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan how to achieve these objectives; in doing so, the facilitator remains “neutral” meaning he/she does not take a particular position in the discussion. Some facilitator tools will try to assist the group in achieving a consensus on any disagreements that preexist or emerge in the meeting so that it has a strong basis for future action

Dictionary.com  a facilitator is a person or thing that facilitates, a person responsible for leading or coordinating the work of a group, as one who leads a group discussion.

MindTools.com    The definition of facilitate is “to make easy” or “ease a process.” What a facilitator does is plan, guide and manage a group event to ensure that the group’s objectives are met effectively, with clear thinking, good participation and full buy-in from everyone who is involved.

Merriam-Webster:  a facilitator is one that facilitates; especially:  one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision the workshop’s facilitator kept the discussion flowing smoothly.

Oxford Living Dictionaries:  A facilitator is a person or thing that makes an action or process easy or easier.
Happy to Help