Professional Facilitators Save Organizations
Time, Money, and Frustration

How many times have you been in a team, committee, or taskforce meeting that was a huge waste of your time? Have you spent hours in meetings that go nowhere, and have taken you away from your "real work", so when the meeting ends you are resentful, frustrated and angry? If this sounds familiar, you should read on.

How is it possible that a professional meeting facilitator can save organizations a sizable amount of time and money? A professional facilitator is a well-trained specialist that understands group dynamics, practices and models good communication skills, is skilled in conflict resolution, and knows how to engage the individuals in a group to deliver results. As a neutral person, the facilitator is a process expert not a content expert. The facilitator's role is to surface issues that are blocking effective working relationships, build consensus, and assist the group in reaching, and embracing their goals.

Any professional facilitator worth his or her salt has done a meticulous job in preparation, as groundwork is 90 percent of the job in good facilitation work. Part of a facilitator's homework is learning about the culture of the group, clearly understanding the goals and objectives of the client, and possibly surveying or interviewing the participants ahead of the meeting to identify hidden agendas or areas of conflict that need to be resolved.

Other preparation can include carefully crafting the agenda so each piece has a purpose that drives to the goal of the meeting, and selecting the right facilitation tools to maximize the participation of all the individuals to achieve the collective outcomes they desire. This involves activities that engage all the senses and learning styles of the group members, and keeps the meeting relevant, fast paced, and highly productive. All of this preparation is what saves time in the actual meetings.

When a meeting is facilitated well, group members feel their creativity has been stimulated, problem-solving abilities have been maximized, and they have made a significant contribution to the end product, which is something they can use and embrace. They feel the meeting was a good investment of their time, and their time and expertise was respected.

When hiring a professional facilitator, the first questions should be about their training, experience and how they prepare for their meetings. Be sure the facilitator is listening to what you are saying and attempting to gain a greater understanding of what your interests are and your desired outcomes.

The International Association of Facilitators www.iaf-world.org started certifying professional facilitators because of the demand for skilled qualified facilitators. Organizations realize that well run meetings positively impact morale and their bottom line as employees spend far less time in meetings, goals and objectives are accomplished faster and management and staff are more satisfied with the process.

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