Many people can “run a meeting,” and it can be tempting to use someone involved in the group to facilitate a meeting or workshop. After all, that person already knows the subject matter, is likely familiar with the people attending the meeting, and knows what the end goal looks like.
Utilizing a professional facilitator offers two key advantages:
A facilitator must maintain neutrality as she facilitates the group’s process. Bias, or even the perception of bias, will reduce the group’s trust in the facilitator. That can diminish the group’s effectiveness in reaching its goal.
Someone who has an interest in the outcome and a desire to contribute opinions will not be able to if she is the facilitator. That person is much better utilized as a participant in the process.
The value of a facilitator lies in her ability to help the group operate effectively. A professional facilitator has developed specific skills and tools that allow her to plan for effective meetings and execute those plans successfully.
- An effective facilitator must be able to work with a broad range of people, respecting every individual’s voice, managing interpersonal conflict without making any person feel disrespected or unheard, and encouraging participation by all group members.
- She will be able to control the pace of the conversation, ensuring the work gets done and the conversation doesn’t get off track, all while keeping the group energized, motivated, and engaged.
- She will be flexible and adaptable, quickly shifting gears and and approach as needed – even if it means completely scrapping the original plan.
- She will make sure to have a clear understanding of the end goals so she can design the facilitation flow to ensure a successful outcome.