I’m excited to be a part of an on-line organizing guide coming out in July 2013. I am writing up a 1,000 word chapter about facilitating meetings – aka how humans can talk to other humans in person off-line. The chapter is due soon so I thought I’d spend some time digging into the slightly more than 1,000 word trainings and notes I have on the subject.
I came across a list I wrote up several years ago for a skill share – it’s a list of phrases I use a lot when facilitating. When I first started facilitating, this sort of thing was super useful when thinking out how a conversation was going to go. These aren’t going into my chapter, but I thought I’d share them in case anyone found them interesting.
Moving Things Along: One of the most common issues I see in meeting is being right on the edge of agreement, but not quite able to firm things up and move on. Sometimes this can be an issue of lack of trust leading to a tendency to micro-manage – other times it’s just that natural group excitement to do every task at the same time! But I’ll save such diagnosis for another day.
“Ok, this is just brainstorming now, we’ll discuss specific details later” or it’s opposite: “It sounds like we’re starting to get off track. I think we have a little more digging to do/a few basic questions to answer on this topic before we move on to the next item.”
“Everyone has really important things to say, but if we don’t wrap this up soon we’ll miss lunch/be late for break.” (semi-humorous only!)
“Any last burning or urgent statements you want to share before we move on for now?”
“It’s sounds like lots of folks are in agreement – does anyone have any concerns or disagreements with this proposal?”
“I see a lot of folks have hands up, but I want to summarize some consensus from the statements we’ve already heard. What I think I’m hearing is –this value/proposal–, does that sound right?”
“So what I’m hearing is that the group thinks…does that sound right? Anyone want to re-phrase my proposal?”
“So what I hear you saying is….Does that sound like what you meant to say?”
“What’s next? How do we move forward with this? What do next steps look like? When does this need done by? What needs to happen first to move this forward?”
“It looks like we have a good list of basic values and outcomes for this project – are we ready hand it over to a committee/working group to flesh out the nitty-gritty?”
“I think that is a really important point, but right now we are talking about…can we bike rack that or talk about it at this later time?”
“I’m not sure that fits into the agenda/process we put together, could we discuss that later?”
“This sounds like a separate working group – anyone want to volunteer to make sure this conversation gets into next week’s agenda/get’s discussed later”
Call for participation
“Lets hear from…” …some people who haven’t spoken yet…the left side of the room…some people who have never been to one of these meetings… women…young people…etc.
“Well, what do you/does the group think?” (It’s not uncommon for group members to ask the facilitator a question that the facilitator has no authority to answer.)
“Take a moment to discuss this question with your neighbor, then we’ll report back some of the key points y’all come up with.”
“Let’s consider that question for a minute. What are people’s thoughts?”
While some of these statements have become pretty rote for me, I do *almost always* genuinely still mean them.