I know how to lead meetings. I can facilitate myself.

The role of facilitator is not the same as the role of the meeting leader. And, it is not possible to simultaneously lead a meeting and facilitate it.

The main reasons to bring in a facilitator are:

  • A facilitator brings objectivity and a fresh pair of eyes and ears
  • The facilitator has no horse in the race or attachment to outcomes
  • A facilitator has a very specific set of process design and group dynamics skills
  • And the skills to build consensus and help a group resolve conflict
  • Having a facilitator allows the leader to be a participant
  • Hiring a facilitator allows all participants the opportunity to leave rank at the door so that all voices can be heard

What is the role of a facilitator for group processes?

  • Suggests agendas and processes: gets consensus on agenda and group process throughout the session
  • Does not participate in discussion or decision-making process
  • Starts and ends meetings and segments on time
  • Evaluates meeting process and progress
  • Keeps discussion on task and contains digression
  • Listens and asks for clarification
  • Summarizes, helps the group close discussion and decide issues
  • Tests for consensus on decisions and/or action items
  • Facilitates conflict resolution
  • Encourages equal participation
  • Plays devil’s advocate, questions assumptions
  • Focuses on feelings as well as facts
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