Introduction to Facilitating Meetings

Have you ever sat through a meeting that has dragged on and on, with tempers running high, people talking over each other and no decisions being made? Or maybe one person dominates the whole meeting and makes all the decisions, leaving you to wonder why you bothered turning up? Most of us can manage sitting through such a meeting a couple of times, but then we start finding excuses not to go any more, or at least wish we didn’t have to.

Unfortunately this pattern is very common in groups of all kinds. It leads to frustration, inefficiency and eventually loss of group members. However with the goodwill of the group it is quite easy to turn around the style of meetings and actually make them an enjoyable and inspiring experience for everyone. This guide explores the concept of facilitation and how it can help in creating successful and positive meetings. It is primarily aimed at groups using consensus decision making, a process that involves all members of the group in reaching an agreement that is acceptable to everyone. However, facilitation can help any meeting work more effectively.

Meetings are a necessary part of working in any group – they give us the chance to share information, to reach decisions and to get jobs done. But meetings have another important function, which is often forgotten about – group maintenance. A good meeting not only gets work done, but also involves, supports and empowers the participants, creating a high level of energy and enthusiasm. A sense of community and connection to fellow group members is the basis for successful group work and social change. Good facilitation will help you to achieve all of this.

This guide is based on a briefing produced by the excellent Seeds for Change, the original is also available as a single .pdf guide.