Case Study: Check Out These Facilitation Techniques by Award Winning Facilitator

Andrew Huffer runs facilitation, community engagement, team development, and training consultancy that supports government, business, and community organisations to do their best work.

Group Map Case Study – Andrew Huffer

Who is Andrew Huffer?

Andrew Huffer runs facilitation, community engagement, team development, and training consultancy that supports government, business, and community organisations to do their best work. His work takes him from Broome to Launceston; Perth to Port Moresby, Albany to Auckland. Wherever you are, he and his team can be on your patch, working with you to get the results you need, when you need them most. Andrew Huffer is the proud recipient of the 2015 Australian IAF Global Facilitation Impact Award.
1. What was the event, meeting or objective you were using GroupMap to resolve?
The Australian Dairy Leaders Alumni Forum

2. What were the details of the event in terms of size, name, and location? Is there a link we can refer to?
A national gathering of over 50 leaders from across the Australian dairy industry, held in Melbourne in December 2015. The summit enabled participants to identify how they would invest in their community, their industry, and importantly – themselves. Involved facilitation of interactive, speaker, panel, and workshop sessions and a program debrief with the planning team.

3. What was the main challenge you wanted to resolve?
Sharing multiple views and solutions across a range of topics with over 50 participants in less than 90 minutes.

4. In what way/s did you use GroupMap?
Participants chose one of four topics to work on within a break-out group. Each group identified three BIG ideas to develop to provide leadership to their community or industry in relation to the topic.

5. What was the response from the audience?
Very positive, especially in the reporting back session.

6. What outcomes/output did you achieve from using GroupMap?
GroupMap allowed more time for discussion of the topic as the reporting back time was much more streamlined. The information recorded was exported straight into the workshop report that the client had delivered to them within 24 hours.

7. Is there anything else you want to say to people considering using GroupMap for themselves?
If you’re using GroupMap, you still need to plan sound, simple, and logical facilitation processes. With reasonable planning (and a decent wifi connection) it will give you loads of flexibility in capturing and sharing individual and group ideas.
Read Andrew Huffer’s full blog about GroupMap Here!

It’s a great alternative to the omnipresent flipchart paper that can often bring groans of ‘you’re making us work’ when they’re rolled out in a workshop.

ANDREW HUFFER | Andrew Huffer and Associates

5 Great Ground Rules for Effective Meetings

GroupMap-can-help-you-and-your-team-create-agreed-rules-to-make-your-meetings-more-effective

Effective meetings are important to our working life; after all, no one wants to waste time, engage in unhealthy dissent or increase workloads. 

If you’re holding a meeting to share ideas, solve problems, build team morale or train your team members, establishing meeting ground rules (or house rules) can help ensure your time is well spent. 

Just like the rules of a sporting match, meeting ground rules ensure all team members are aware of – 

  • the parameters in which the meeting will operate
  • what they can expect of others
  • what is expected of them

Meetings that have ground rules are more likely to – 

  • run on time
  • achieve their purpose
  • deliver value
  • nurture positive connections 
  • foster a collaborative environment

Of course, some conventions may already exist within your workplace (having phones switched to silent at all times), so meeting ground rules are in addition to those understandings. 

At GroupMap there’s nothing we like more than coming together to share, create and inspire each other. 

Here are the five great ground rules we use to help us get the most out of our meetings.

We agree to – 

1. Hit the Ground Running!

To kick off a productive momentum, show up to the meeting on time, and be prepared to get cracking! 

Read through the agenda and supporting documents, and make sure you have delivered any action items assigned to you.

2. Stay on Task and Start on Time!

Keep one eye on the timer and another eye on the agenda. 

Adhere to the time allocated to a topic, and if a decision, action item, or consensus has been recorded there’s no need for further discussion. 

Don’t assume that if you are happy for the meeting to go over time, everyone else is too.

3. Be Critical of Problems, not People!

Everyone should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. 

A great way of achieving this is to unpack ideas. Importantly, if people stick to this rule everyone should feel comfortable enough to tackle difficult topics, safe in the knowledge that –  

  • healthy dissent is an exploration of ideas not an exercise in judgment 
  • differing opinions are to be embraced as they can foster creativity and positive change

4. Listen then Speak!

Sticking to this rule may be more difficult than you think as most people ‘listen to speak’ rather than ‘listen then speak’. 

Adhering to this rule helps meeting participants maintain an open mind, and actively listen to what is being said. It also gives them time to think before they offer feedback. 

Lastly, but by no means least, this rule is a wonderful mechanism with which participants can demonstrate respect for each other.

5. Use a Common Language!

Words really do have power. They can be inclusive, positive, and empowering, and they can also be the opposite. 

Sayings, idioms, and other figures of speech that are usually culturally or generationally based have the potential to be confusing, or even divisive. The use of acronyms can be isolating. Management speak has a reputation for being unnecessarily convoluted.

Keep it positive and simple, while avoiding colloquialisms and corporate jargon.

Supercharge your Ground Rules

Buy-in is the secret ingredient that will supercharge your ground rules and keep your meetings focussed and efficient. That’s because the greater a participants’ sense of ownership of the rules, the more likely they are to stick to them. There are some simple ways to achieve this.

1. Have the Meeting Participants Shape the Rules

Put some time aside to brainstorm, explore and talk through potential ground rules with the people who will be using them. You will discover what they think is important in the meeting space.

GroupMap has made this easy; our House Rules template has been designed to guide you through the process. It helps you capture, discuss, and then decide upon your rules as a group.

2. Remind People of the Ground Rules

It may seem obvious, but referencing the rules in the meeting is the best way to help people remember them. Include the rules in the agenda itself and have the facilitator start each meeting by running through the rules. Putting aside some time at the start of your meeting to discuss the rules will help people remember what they have agreed to.

3. Meeting Observer

If meeting participants agree, appoint someone as a meeting observer who can give feedback on how well the rules are being followed, and how they help the meeting flow. This can act as a reminder as to why you set the rules in the first place. 

When the rules are followed during the meeting in order to support the meeting experience, the observer can highlight what happened and the positive consequences that resulted. Similarly, if people are not sticking to the rules, the observer can outline what happened, and suggest what could be done better next time.

It’s important the meeting attendees are comfortable with this and see it as a mechanism for continuous improvement rather than judgment.

An alternative to appointing an observer is to have an anonymous feedback mechanism such as a survey designed to help gauge how well people feel the rules have been applied.

4. Regularly Review the Ground Rules

Effective rules make effective meetings. To ensure the ground rules are doing what they are meant to do, put aside time to revisit the rules with the participants and update them if necessary.

Set your Meeting Ground Rules Today

GroupMap captures individual thinking first, then reveals the group perspective, all in real-time. 

It’s just one of the many ways we can help you conduct effective meetings and collaborative sessions.

Think better together with GroupMap! Start your 14-day trial now!

Have more questions or would like a demo?

6 Facilitation Techniques to Inspire Productivity in Meetings

meeting-productivity

A great meeting coordinator can get a group to brainstorm, discuss, and, most importantly, decide upon many things in a short amount of time. The challenge is that many organizations do not have a specialized facilitator to fulfil that position.

As the modern workplace grows more collaborative and digital, it is becoming increasingly necessary for all team members to understand how to conduct efficient meetings.

Here are six facilitation techniques that’ll help you lead the next productivity-boosting meeting with confidence.

1. Start Meetings with a Quick Check-in

Check-ins position everyone in the room to pay attention to the meeting and one another.

During your check-in, ask questions such as –

  • What’s on everyone’s mind before we get started with the agenda?
  • What is one thing you intend to accomplish during today’s meeting?
  • What one word best defines your current state of mind?

Check-ins take only a few minutes and result in substantial benefits. They allow individuals to get to know one another better and bring people’s attention to the room, ensuring that everyone is mentally present for the discussion.

2. Establish Question-based Meeting Agendas that Promote Participation

One of the most crucial aspects of being a facilitator is a neutral status, which entails raising areas of concern or opportunities, preferably in question form. A well-crafted question can help make complex topics more manageable and encourage other members to share their expertise on the subject.

Instead of posting a common agenda like “discuss marketing strategy”, try listing out question-based formats such as – “what major market risks require our attention and how can we best prepare for it?”.

This agenda strategy helps set the meeting tone and help members think of answers beforehand.

3. Delegate Specific Meeting Roles

It is acceptable, even wise, for a facilitator to delegate tasks such as note-taking and time-keeping to others.

Allowing attendees to contribute fosters a sense of collective ownership of the meeting’s success.

Remember to rotate the responsibilities at each meeting so everyone has the opportunity to engage and contribute.

4. Create Opportunities for Engagement

The facilitator should be mindful that certain group members may be less outspoken than others, though their opinions remain just as crucial. The facilitator should establish an environment of equality in which they can participate.

Establishing meeting rules underpinned with inclusivity is of paramount importance. Look to those attending the meeting to help contribute to these understandings so that their shared ownership of the expectations increases the likelihood of adherence to them.

When facilitating discussion, ask simple open-ended inquiries to spark their curiosity and elicit responses. Use questions such as –

  • What do you think?
  • What would you do? and
  • Do you have any other ideas?

Given these questions will be asked without notice, offer people the opportunity to “pass” or nominate for the conversation to “circle back” so that those less forthcoming individuals don’t feel put on the spot.

If time allows, consider separating participants into small groups to encourage quieter team members to participate. Then, bring everyone back to the whole group and ask for highlights of the chat.

5. Review and Combine Ideas for Greater Focus

Once all participants have had the opportunity to respond to the question the meeting is to address, it’s important that those ideas are organized and assessed. Once all participants are on the same page, it’s possible to shape agreed action points. 

With all ideas collated, the facilitator can work with participants to –

  1. Review all of the ideas
  2. Identify any ideas that can be grouped together
  3. Vote on the ideas they wish to bring forward to discuss

Involving participants in such a sense-making activity can help them better understand the connection between multiple ideas. It also ensures that the meeting’s time is spent focussed on the more important matters.

Using meeting facilitation tools can be of great help in supporting this process. Such tools can also add value as they transparently capture and report back on the ideas generated by the meeting.

6. Conclude with a Quick Debrief and Plan Follow-ups

Debriefing time should be set aside at the end of the meeting.

Facilitators can improve retention of meeting outcomes by summarising –

  • The issues covered
  • Information acquired
  • Decisions made, and
  • The tasks and individuals accountable for their delivery

Finally, following the meeting, ensure there is follow-up with participants.

Valuable progress can be achieved at a meeting, but it is meaningless if there is no follow-up to ensure proper execution of the agreed action points.

Final Thoughts

Meeting facilitation is a valuable transferable skill.

While someone new to the facilitation space may make errors; that’s fine! One doesn’t have to be a master facilitator to save a team hours of wasted time.

Facilitation skills will grow as they are practiced, which is why the most valuable advice to a would-be facilitator is –

Get out there, and start practicing!

GroupMap is a real-time online brainstorming and group decision-making tool that dramatically improves the output of team brainstorming activities.

Start a free trial and boost your company’s productivity today!

Have more questions or would like a demo?