Ep 91 // Mastering Meetings: Secrets to Engaging and Efficient Facilitation

Ep 91

Ever been in a meeting that feels like a waste of time? 

Of course, you have. That's because many leaders and organizations don't know how to effectively facilitate a meeting that engages team members. In this episode, you'll hear portions of a recent training Akua gave on how to be an effective moderator and facilitator. 

Learn about the three basic types of meetings (and which one isn't really a "meeting") and why a well-moderated meeting actually begins well before the meeting starts. After listening, you'll be well on your way to leading the most effective, efficient, and productive meetings possible so that all your team members will feel like their time is valued and well-spent!

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What's Covered in this Episode About Engaging Meetings

  • Find out what a good facilitator or moderator does, including making sure there's an agenda, creating psychological safety, listening, and more.
  • Learn the five P's of facilitation: purpose, planning, process, participation, and pursuit. 
  • It takes good communication skills, active listening, and flexibility to effectively facilitate a meeting. 
  • Akua guides listeners through some exercises that will help your team members engage and communicate in meetings. 

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "A well moderated or facilitated meeting begins way before the meeting starts." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "To have an effective meeting, most of the participants should be involved in or contributing to the conversation, they should definitely be adding to it." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Following up after a meeting or conversation is key, and in some cases now we have a lot of interesting technology, that allows us to do this even more effectively." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in Mastering Meetings: Secrets to Engaging and Efficient Facilitation

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 91 about Mastering Meetings: Secrets to Engaging and Efficient Facilitation

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 A well moderated or facilitated meeting begins way before the meeting starts. Hello and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework, I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritize and maximize not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else to get more garden. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode, I'm doing something a little different this week, what I've tried to do is cut up one of my most recent trainings about how to be an effective moderator and facilitator. And I feel like this is such an important topic as it relates to engaging with others. I also feel like this is a topic that many leaders and organizations get wrong. So if you're interested in learning about how to host facilitate and moderate, more effective meetings, keep listening. Please keep in mind that this is a cut up training, the entire training was over 90 minutes, what you're hearing now is a cut up version of that. So if there's any awkward pauses, I mentioned a slide, please keep in mind, that is why what we're going to be covering today. Alright, so we're gonna dive into today's topic, first, the role of a facilitator or a moderator, and I use those interchangeably. And I'll talk a little bit about why I do that. The second is the five P's of facilitation, alright, and we're gonna have a little activity within the five P's of facilitation where we're going to actually be talking about the icebreaker or Energizer that we've selected because I think that's a key component of being able to once again get people to engage and communicate. And that's what really is key to having an effective meeting, right or conversation people actually contributing. And then last but not least, we're going to do a little scenario, a little case study extended case study about conversations that move things forward. And so I have a little approach that we're going to use in order to do that. Let's talk a little bit about the role of a facilitator. But before we actually jump into that directly, I'd love for us all to really just reflect on, you know, a meeting, think back to a meeting that you felt was a waste of time. Okay, maybe use the words, it was bad was terrible. That was a completely useless meeting. I'd love for you to think back to that meeting. I see a few of you see Michael smiley, a few of you shifting uncomfortably. Alright, so I'd love for you to just maybe to reflect on that. And if you have a piece of paper, or maybe even just notes open on your laptop, I'd love for you just to write down a few things that come to mind about why you felt that meeting was a waste of time. Okay, what was happening? What wasn't happening? What made it feel like, that was useless, you know, why was I even there, just take a second to write a few notes down. I think for the most part, all of us know what a good meeting might look like, or Time Well Spent might look like. And yet we tend to find ourselves or continue to find ourselves in situations where Wait, hey, this wasn't really that great use of my time, or hey, like, Does this really make sense? So my hope is that this gives you an opportunity to really reflect on the meetings you tend to find yourself in. And when you have the opportunity to be that moderator facilitator, what are some of the things that you can take away right already, like I mentioned, all of you know, these pieces, you've already mentioned a lot of these pieces, but I'm going to be sharing some frameworks that hopefully allow you to really use this and move it forward to make sure that you're continuing to create the most productive, effective and efficient meetings possible. Alright, so let's get back to really just talking about what a good facilitator or moderator does, okay. And from my perspective, and I think a lot of this was mentioned in terms of what a good Meeting is, but it does come down to people, right? Because meetings are about people. The first is that a good facilitator tends to be someone who has flexible communication skills, and is a great listener and are able to move a meeting forward in order to support with making sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute, if they want to do that, right, you need to make sure that you have good listening skills, and you need to be able to pivot a conversation in different ways. And once again, this is really what is covered for the most part in that first session that I hosted. So that's the first bit the second bit right. And this is when a meeting goes too long, right? Or we're not really sure why we're here, a good facilitator, right? Or good facilitation starts with making sure that there's an agenda, right, we're aware of what we're going to do, those expectations are set, if it's a timed meeting, we make sure that we're ending on time. And we need to enforce whatever specific goals and expectations that we have. Right. So a quick example of that might be maybe you have a meeting that has a specific structure, and the facilitator makes sure that you go through all those pieces of that structure. And at the end, maybe they also make sure hey, there are key takeaways that everyone keeps in mind, ultimately, what does this lead to, this leads to psychological safety, right? So it leads to people feeling comfortable, right? One showing up feeling like this is going to be a good use of their time and contributing, knowing that, you know, everyone will be heard, right, and that if they say something maybe that the majority doesn't agree with, they're not going to be humiliated, they're not going to be bullied, right. So they're excited to be there. They're excited to contribute, and they're ready to take on whatever next steps are brought on. All right, I'd love to pause here and just see anything come up for anyone. Everyone understands psychological safety. Okay. See somebody has Yeah, so that's really the key ultimately, right. A good facilitator, a good moderator, right, is really focused on creating that psychological safety. So they can bring out everyone's opinions and thoughts, so that we can all move forward together. And when we think about it from this perspective of what a meeting is, and I think this is key, is that recognizing that a meetings around having a verbal interaction, right, so I think it was to hear that sort of mentioned that she was in a meeting where she was just being told information that she already was aware of, right? Did it make sense for her to be there, she didn't necessarily have the opportunity to contribute. So really just recognizing that that might be done in a different space, right, or in a different way, right. And really just recognizing that everything doesn't have to be called a meeting, just calling that gathering something different, can actually lead to people engaging with it very differently, as well, right. So that's also a key thing to think about when you are thinking about how to share information. And I think the next slide is going to really help hit that home a little bit more. So there are three basic types of meetings. So the first is a meeting where attendees are informed about what's happening. And when I was doing some research for this, and really thinking about what I wanted to share, I think this is a very interesting place to start. Because for a lot of people, this first element sharing of information is actually not a meeting, because once again, it tends to be very one sided, right. And this is what might come across to some employees, as a report or a lecture, someone just sharing information that maybe could be shared in a memo could be shared in a video, right? That people can get access to it asynchronously, it doesn't actually necessarily mean that a meeting needs to happen, right? A meeting should really be a place where people come together to discuss important issues. So from my perspective, in this definition, I found online, we really should be focused on the two other types of meeting. Okay. And once again, just to reiterate, sort of why when we talk about this first bit information, it might be better suited to other channels, is that for some people sharing of information, it's just an opportunity to demonstrate their status and power, I can call a meeting people will show up, I'm sure all of you have been in situations where in organizations where that's the case, right, I can make people sit here for an hour, and I can just lecture at them. That's actually not a good use of their time and not a good use of your time, either. That's actually very much driven by their ego, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should so thinking about once again, how else can you share that information. So you can make sure that you have either a discussion, or you're working from thinking about how to get permission to be able to move forward. Okay, so these are really the key I think elements to consider. And as you reflect on the meetings you have, try and categorize them. And if you find that you once again, we're thinking about maybe where you have, in this case, the power or authority to do something different. If you find a lot of your meetings are just about one sided sharing information. Is there a way to think about sharing that information and other way so that when it comes to having that discussion part, maybe it's only 30 minutes, but the expectation is everyone takes a second to look at the slides or the memo or presentation before you have the discussion versus just sharing information and then leaving very little time for focusing on getting permission or discussion. How else could you gotten that information? How much time could you have saved, or the organization could have saved sharing that information in another way, just something to reflect on. And as we think about these types of meetings, right, and we think about the roles of facilitators, a huge thing I just want to share with everyone is that a well moderated or facilitated meeting starts way before the meeting starts. All right. So let's get into the five P's of facilitation. And I think that if you are going to have a meeting with those three different types, it becomes even more important to think about these five P's. So the first is a clear purpose. Right. And I think that when you think back to some of the things that we shared earlier about a good meeting, or you know, time that wasn't well spent, it really starts at why are we here, right? And so with that clear purpose, a part of it will also be does this relate to each individual that's in this meeting as well. All right. The second is planning that is well done, and everyone is prepped, right. And I mentioned before, sometimes you can also have pre work to allow people to be prepped and ready to have a discussion or actually talk about permission or specific tasks that needs to be completed, there might be some information that's shared beforehand, so people aren't prepped. The third is a clear process and agenda. I always recommend this, especially for recurring meetings, for there to be a clear agenda and something that hopefully is done time and time, again, very easy to build. And you can of course, use schools to support you with that maximum participation. This is the key thing. And I think that as a good facilitator, moderator, you really want to make sure as many people are participating as possible, if not, they shouldn't be there. And most importantly, and I think I forget who this who mentioned this, but that clear call to action, right? What's happening next, a lot of times meetings are discussions are permission based, and it's about those next steps. So keeping those in mind. And I think that a good facilitator, a moderator make sure and leaves time for that, even if the next step is, hey, we need to have another conversation where we dive a bit deeper into this specific topic, that could be the next step. But there needs to be someone there that actually actions it and puts it on the calendar. So let's dive a little bit deeper into these, when it really comes to the clear purpose, it should be shared with everyone. A key thing when we're thinking about a clear purpose is that there can be an overall purpose for the meetings. But with each specific meeting, it's important that whatever you're trying to achieve is realistic within the time period, you've set aside for it, right, so you're not going to be able to solve all the problems within an organization in one hour. Right. So really being realistic, and making sure that whatever you're doing within that time period is key. Alright, and I mentioned before, we're gonna be doing a little scenario, you know, later on activity, and so coming up with a clear purpose is going to be really important to make sure that whoever's joining is able to make a decision, one about whether they should be there and then to about whether or not it's time well spent planning, and everyone is prepped, okay, as a facilitator, you want to share as much information as possible before the meeting, so that people once again are ready to jump into that discussion. And I also recommend that you map out the conversation beforehand and have a plan B, sometimes a conversation or meeting is going to be a really hot button topic. And so it's really important that that facilitator is ready to have this conversation and ready even potentially, to say, hey, maybe we need to take a little bit of a break or come back and do this at a later time where people's emotions aren't running as high. That is the role of a facilitator as well. And that's something they can reflect on before the meeting, when it comes to thinking about the process and agenda. This is also incredibly key. So people have an understanding of what's going to happen and what's coming next, you want to make sure everyone's aware of what's going to be covered, right? If you can share it in advance, that's ideal if you can let people contribute to it in advance, because it's something that's a bit more crowd sourced. That's also something that's great as well, right. And one of the things that's really important as a facilitator, especially if you're doing an activity for brainstorming, or even an icebreaker, having instructions that are clear is going to be important as well. So everyone's on the same page. Okay, so we're getting to the part, I think that's really key and sets meetings, apart from lectures or reports or some of these other ways in which we can engage and share information. And that's maximum participation. Okay, so to have an effective meeting, most of the participants should be involved in or contributing to the conversation, right, they should definitely be adding to it. So that's really around that maximum participation piece. And then last but not least, and probably most importantly, for a lot of us, we really need to make sure that the next steps are pursued, right. So following after a, you know, following up after a meeting or conversation is key, and in some cases now we have a lot of interesting technology, right? That allows us to do this even more effectively. But even just designate A note taker or even having a timekeeper, sometimes, as a facilitator, that external view can really go a long way to make sure that decisions next steps, and most importantly, who's responsible is documented and also shared? Right? I'd love to pause here. And I always like to ask how many of you feel like you know what needs to happen after a meeting? Or maybe even we can do the flipside? How many people feel lost, sometimes after meeting and you're like, Wait, what was I supposed to do? What am I responsible for? What did I say? Yes? Do I see a smile? up smiling? Right, that happens, right? And that's fine. But once we become aware of it, what can we do differently. So just having a note taker, or someone who keeps track of that can really go a long way. And that's really that last P. Right? So what you really want to make sure that you keep in mind is what is that purpose? Have I communicated? Is everyone on the same page as the facilitator and moderator? What can I make sure that I do to make sure it's well planned, right? What's that scenario be if necessary? How can I make sure everyone's prepped? Number three, have I communicated a clear process and agenda? How can I leverage tools, right? So using something as simple as a Google Doc? Or if you use the Microsoft, you know, tools? How can you use those tools to make sure that you can keep track of what's happening? Right, and make sure that everyone's on the same page? Number four, right, starting the meeting, right? How can I get maximum participation during the meeting? How can I get everybody back engaged in I used any tools? Can I use icebreakers? Right? Are there any energizers? I can do? And last but not least, what are those next steps that need to be pursued? How can I keep track of them? Right? And what needs to be considered? Does your company maybe just a quick one? Does your team use any like project management system or software to keep track of stuff? No, okay. It's not necessary. I don't think it's necessary. But thinking about it from that perspective, right. It can be as simple as a Google Doc or a Google sheet right of your meetings, just keeping track of it right, that can go a long way as well. And that's something to check in on within that next meeting. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, I would love to know what you thought of this week's episode because I did do something a little bit different. And because I am a coach, I just want to reiterate that it is so important for you to reflect on when you feel like a meeting was a waste of time versus time well spent. Keep those five P's in mind. And remember, being an effective facilitator or moderator starts with having great listening skills, setting expectations and enforcing them, but ultimately, you should be focused on creating psychological safety. Thanks again for taking the time to listen. Stay safe and stay sane.


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