THE FIRST STEP OF FACILITATION:
Developing A Meeting Agenda
So, you have been asked to facilitate a meeting … Now what?
Facilitation Step One is to develop an agenda. Sure, it sounds simple enough. Isn’t an agenda just a list of topics? Maybe. But effectively accomplishing work at a meeting starts with developing an organized schedule. This short article shares some pointers about how to develop an agenda that will accomplish your objectives—a sure sign of a facilitation job well done.
Begin with a list of topics
For each topic, consider what you want the meeting participants to do. Options might include:
- Listen to a presentation,
- Discuss a topic,
- Ask questions of an expert,
- React to information provided, or even
- Make a recommendation.
There may be other objectives. Some topics might be complicated and include numerous steps, like all of the above.
Volumes have been written on both dispute and conflict resolution, and solving disagreements has spawned a wide-ranging academic universe and a large consulting industry, as well as specialized training on the subject.
Do you really need a meeting?
If all of the topics listed are merely for the purpose of sharing information, consider whether a meeting is really called for. There are other, more efficient ways to present information to people. For a meeting to be appropriate, at least some of the objectives should clearly be benefitted by bringing people together. And a great facilitator always includes time for questions. Think about it from the perspective of the desired participants. Why might they be interested in attending this meeting?
Not all Topics are Equal
Using the list of topics you generated above, consider the following:
- Some topics may not make sense if not covered in a particular order, but other topics may have no real sequencing considerations.
- Not all topics will require the same amount of time.
- Some topics may generate more enthusiasm and energy, while others may be less invigorating.
- Some facilitation methods may be more energizing than others.
- Alternating between compelling and less interesting topics can keep people engaged for longer meetings.
- Changing facilitation methods will help stabilize the energy in the room over the duration of the meeting.
- Putting all the “good stuff” together may encourage people to show up late or leave early.
Our Best Words of Advice
All things considered, it is probably better to establish a conservative timeline for a meeting and announce the start and end time when making invitations. People rarely object if a meeting finishes earlier than planned; finishing late may upset those who have made their plans around announced
Ready for Facilitation Step One?
Enter your email to Download an Agenda Development Worksheet.
Want to Know More?
Consider registering for The Participation Company’s “How to Facilitate” course. Find upcoming dates and locations here.