Building Change through Better Facilitation
Facilitators: Sonia Silbert and Khadijah McCaskil

Goals for the Training
o    Concrete tools to facilitate conversations and get stuff done
o    Why meetings go wrong and how these tools help
o    Understand prep and follow up needs for meetings


I.    Activity – Talk to 5 people about the following two things               

1. Talk about your experiences with a great meeting and what it made it a great meeting?
2. Talk about an experience you had with a terrible meeting and what made it a terrible meeting?

II. Tools for Facilitation

a.    Time limits
b.    Talk back

III. Role of Facilitator: Make the process easier for a meeting to take place and move participants through the process to achieve goals.  

a.    Someone who is the bridge between the content and the process.  
b.    A facilitator is someone who is going to ease the process

IV. Role Play (FishBowl) - (World’s Worst Meeting) –  

a.    10-12 individuals are needed for this fishbowl exercise as participants and one facilitator is needed.
b.    The meeting will last for 6-10 minute meeting
c.    Each attendee is given a role to play for problematic/distracting behaviors

V. Why do problematic behaviors create additional problems in meetings?

a.    Some people take up too much space
b.    It becomes  less about of the seriousness of the meeting, the goals, and what would happen
c.    Lack of continuous communication

VI. How to deal with such issues in meetings?
a.    Agenda planning
b.    Time tracking
c.    Call people in if they take up too much space

VI.  Groups of 5 to discuss ways to deal with problematic behaviors and practice/use one tool.
a.    Everyone breaks into 5 groups and then provides feedback on what facilitator in the fishbowl could have done  

Tools to use
a.    Hand Signals (e.g., finger twinkling)
b.    Prioritize and address the distractions
c.    Ask ellicitive questions
d.    Use Pop-corn style facilitation
e.    Community agreements – (agree to them in the beginning)
f.    Have a list of facilitator agreements so the group can hold the facilitator accountable.  
g.    Parking Lot (anything you won’t get to)
h.    Use different colors to scribe (Acknowledge differentiation in instructions)  - Switch the colors from topic to topic
i.    Introduction and pronouns
j.    Having signals for affirmation (snaps (agree) – rubbing hands (when you don’t agree) – make sure you have community agreements that explain what hand signals mean
k.    Time limits or a signal to slow down
l.    Taking stack
m.    Stop the meeting and check-in on how people are feeling before moving further
n.    Decision-making meetings (1-5 hand w/ five fingers they agree fully and 3 is in the middle) – however check that to be respectful in terms of individuals with disabilities
o.    Silence – giving people a minute to breathe and take in and contemplate
p.    Having two facilitators and having a note-taker
q.    Having notepads/colorful things/using different colors for scribing
r.    Having someone be the time-keeper
s.    Having agendas
t.    Discussions around what the goal of the meeting should be if it’s hard to have a meeting
u.    Assign actionable items for next meeting (send an email to schedule the next meeting)
v.    Review notes/points/goals
w.    Talking Stick/an object for groups to center who is speaking
x.    Big groups – Have subgroup meetings
y.    Do a check-in for the meeting
z.    People send in what they want to address before the meeting rather than trying to do all the meeting (pre-prep) and asking people for their accessibility needs

- Talk Tokens - This is for individuals who talk too much

- Have Role plays

- Have Fish bowl
-    Seen this tool used where there is a facilitated conversation so people could switch into the conversation and tap someone out. If you want a deeper conversation, this tool works
-    Bring back people in and keep the energy going
-    Used in a decision-making process
-    Mingle
-    Minimum/maximum

Other Tools To Use During Facilitation
a.    Having a vibe-checker (take the temperature of the room)
b.    Break times (movement breaks)
c.    Addressing Power Imbalances in groups (step up & step back)/ (Move up/Move back)
d.    Move up/Move up (both going into speaking/listen)
e.    What are accountability measures for agreement norms? How do you hold the group accountable towards them?
f.    Accountability Buddies – When you have friends and you are going to check each other
g.    Taking a moment to write down your thoughts
h.    Collective deep breaths – taking a moment to breathe deeply/collectively from the belly up and bring us back to the present moment

What Should An Agenda Include?
-     Make goals for everything and they should be clear and measurable
-    Include introductions/ice-breaker
-    Mutual Invitation –  When one individual introduces themselves and then calls another person by name. This demonstrates that someone is  paying attention to who is in the room.
-    Call an individual by name

What Makes a good Facilitator
a.    Doing research before hand
b.    Watching the impact of their words/actions
c.    Having a note-taker/scribe/co-facilitator
d.    Being excited
e.    Being neutral
f.    Capturing something concisely
g.    How to ask general questions that create new knowledge
h.    Do research on who will be in the room.
i.    Prepping up
j.    Following up to the initial facilitator role

What Minimizes effectiveness as a facilitator
a.    Lack of confidence in themselves and agenda
b.    Facilitator should have Upbeat energy
c.    Interrupted/rushed through the agenda
d.    Talk too much
e.    Taking it too personally on how you facilitate
f.    Playing favorites
g.    Question Posing – Don’t ask yes/no questions but have more probing questions

How can someone be a facilitator and be neutral if they were part of the group?
a.    You are not an idea killer (yes/and)
b.    You can be honest when you aren’t facilitator
c.    Facilitator difference  (Training v. meeting)  

Note/Note-Taking (how do we record so it’s easier)
a.    Have an agenda before hand and use it as a shell
b.    Have decisions clearly/to-dos
c.    Depend on the group/who is present

Basic pieces of what comprises of good  notes
a.    Date
b.    Who is the note-taker/facilitator
c.    Event title – name of the topic
d.    What is the difference between minutes and notes
o    One of the difference between a transcript (its  capturing everything) and notes get at the main points
o    Reading a transcript is difficult and key pieces are lost
o    Good notes are highlights – whatever can be retained

Other points:

-    As a note-taker ask for clarifying question
-    Notes should be accessible
-    Review/find them
-    To bold and highlight dates/things/to dos
-    Note-taking is something important to have as a skill and listen carefully/engage/absorb/summarize/reflect – its similar to facilitating
-    Gendered dynamics – note-taking does often tend to take person out of the conversation.  In many cases, it ends up being women.

-    learn about group - know who will be there, what they expect, what troubles will arise.
-    goals for meeting
-    brainstorm content - agenda items. put them in an order that makes sense
-    what non-content pieces are necessary for this group’s dynamic?  intros, check-ins, ice-breaker, movement activity, affirmations, etc.
-    define agenda items - announcement, report, discussion or decision
-    compare agenda items with list of facilitation tools and pair them up
-    set realistic time limits
-    check for variety of formats that will work for different learning styles, etc.  (especially for longer meetings)

goal is for someone who didn’t attend meeting to get a good sense of what happened
focusing on textual notes.  There’s also mind mapping, doodling, etc - that’s for more creative, brainstorming sessions.


  • What needs to happen before a meeting to set up for good notes?

1. assign a note-taker!  shouldn’t be the facilitator and also not someone who is going to talk a lot - they won’t be able to participate 110%.  ideally someone with a basic understanding of the topic area and the people participating, but not necessary.
2. use the agenda to frame your notes - ask for a copy ahead of time to type into.
3. Understand goals of meeting

During the meeting:
What makes notes valuable?  Why did you decide to write down what you did?
- You want to really listen and focus mainly on:
- Decisions that are being made.
- Things that need to be actioned.  To-dos and who is responsible.
- Information that has to be retained or recorded.  so that the convos are iterative, don’t have to start over.
- You don’t need to write down everything—just the highlights.
- list name of meeting, date, who attended.  some people like to include who is taking notes.
- it’s easier to write down what people said as a transcript, but that’s not great for notes unless you really need a verbatim transcript.  You can lose key information that way because it gets lost in the dense-ness.
- Try writing down just one point per dialogue. If one person is speaking, then, you only get to write one sentence to summarize what they said. This forces you to process the information they shared (as opposed to just robotically writing it down) and simplify it into a format that is meaningful to you.
- ask clarifying questions - if you don’t understand, the notes won’t be clear and no one will remember it in a month.
-  need to listen carefully, be really engaged.

What needs to happen after a meeting to make these notes useful?
·         After the meeting, review transcript and summarize major points and important things to remember/consider.  important part.  Summarize to-dos and next steps at the end or throughout and highlight them.
·         Look for ideas that can be summarized in single points.
·         Read over the notes as a coherent whole and see if anything doesn’t make sense or if there is anything missing.
·         send them out - make them findable later – need to review before the next meeting!  do action items need to be added to a project management tool or something?  any information need to be recorded elsewhere or shared with anyone else?

·         What you are doing is training your ability to take in auditory information, compress and summarize the ideas in your mind, and then record them right away as textual information.  Great skill.
·         takes practice - volunteer if you want to try it!