Questionnaire: Your Skill as a Meeting Facilitator
Arranging and managing meetings is hard work. It’s vital, though, for a facilitator to take the job seriously, and to ensure each meeting is productive. Poorly organised meetings mean poor communication, and result in staff dissatisfaction and wasted time.
To help you achieve success with every meeting you hold, use this quiz to assess your skills.
1. Preparation(a) Do you ask people in advance for their contributions to a meeting? Yes O No O
(b) Do you prepare an agenda in advance of a meeting? Yes O No O
(c) Do you issue an agenda in advance of a meeting? Yes O No O
2. Meeting Format(a) Do you always start a meeting on time? Yes O No O
(b) Do you impose a strict time limit on a meeting? Yes O No O
(c) Do you ensure you hold the meeting in an area where there are as few outside interruptions as possible? Yes O No O
(d) Do you arrange for someone to take minutes of a meeting? Yes O No O
3. Contributions(a) Do people make positive contributions to your meetings? Yes O No O
(b) Do you interrupt people who are rambling, or trying to dominate a meeting? Yes O No O
(c) Do you encourage everyone to contribute? Yes O No O
(d) Do you arrange for people to make presentations to a meeting? Yes O No O
4. Follow-Up(a) At the beginning of a meeting, do you review the previous minutes? Yes O No O
(b) Do you make individuals responsible for certain aspects of the minutes, and for reporting back at the next meeting? Yes O No O
(c) In the period between meetings, do you check that whoever is responsible for taking a certain action is doing just that? Yes O No O
Award yourself one point for each of the following correct answers: (a) yes; (b) yes; (c) yes (maximum three points).
If you ask people in advance for their contributions to a meeting, they feel more involved. Some may be too reticent to make contributions; but the way round this is for you to take responsibility for raising other people’s ideas.
Similarly, issuing an agenda in advance lets everyone know the topics under discussion. They can therefore prepare their thoughts and ideas, and attend a meeting knowing that it has a structure and direction.
2. Meeting FormatAward yourself one point for each of the following correct answers: (a) yes; (b) yes; (c) yes; (d) yes (maximum four points).People are more comfortable attending a meeting that starts and ends on time, even if you have to carry over some issues to the next meeting, or deal with them separately. It’s also important to keep outside interruptions to a minimum. Sudden distractions can break the flow of a meeting and waste time.
As for minutes, you need these in order to record the discussions and action points of a meeting, and to give an air of professionalism and purpose.
3. ContributionsAward yourself one point for each of the following correct answers: (a) yes; (b) yes; (c) yes; (d) yes (maximum four points).
Everyone at a meeting must feel they can make a contribution, and that the others will listen to them with respect. It isn’t easy to achieve this situation, particularly if some people try to dominate meetings. This is when you need to firmly and politely interrupt those who ramble and pointlessly complain. The others will respect you for taking this approach.
One way of encouraging open communication is to arrange for people to make short presentations. These make a meeting more interesting, and help develop staff communication skills.
4. Follow-UpAward yourself one point for each of the following correct answers: (a) yes; (b) yes; (c) yes (maximum three points).
Reviewing the previous minutes establishes continuity, and making staff responsible for pursuing certain actions noted in the minutes confirms a meeting’s purpose. Of course, you may have to ensure that everyone has done what they are supposed to do before the next meeting occurs.
14 points: you know how to plan and run a meeting so that it’s productive and worthwhile. Your meetings contribute positively to the success of your organisation.
12/13 points: you have most of the necessary skills, but still need to improve if your meetings are to be as effective as possible. Take note of where you went wrong with the quiz, and correct the errors in your approach.
Fewer than 12 points: you need to give a lot of thought to your skills as a meeting facilitator. All is probably not lost if you begin a programme of improvements immediately, using the quiz as a checklist.