Imagine you are leading a meeting. Someone gave you the reins, so you have to do it all, right?
Leading is not the same as dominating.
Facilitation is not a monologue.
Being in front of the room does not mean that everything that happens is your responsibility.
In most groups, you have a meeting because you want to have everyone involved in the work. However, when one person is presiding as the leader or facilitator of the meeting, it can inadvertently shift the group’s focus onto that one person. People in the room can get the wrong impression that the work belongs to the person who is facilitating. This is stifling and counterproductive. If this belief is allowed to continue it could lead to group members disengaging, not feeling valued, feeling like the meeting is a waste of their time and more. One way to combat this misperception is to get everyone involved in different ways, right away, and to continue to delegate throughout the meeting as often as feasible.
Examples of tasks someone can take on before, during, and after a meeting:
- Contribute agenda items
- Bring snacks
- Prepare an example or case study to share that relates to the problem/topic at hand
- Bring data related to what will be discussed
- Invite a guest or subject matter expert whose perspective would be helpful
- Pass out the handouts or materials
- Keep track of time or give you updates when you have reached a certain time
- Take notes (either on flip chart in front of group or in a notebook)
- Lead a warm-up activity like a creativity exercise
- Type up and share notes from the meeting
- Report out what happened at the meeting to other stakeholders/people they work with
- Start preparations for the next meeting
Not only does delegating help combat the complacency that comes when people feel like they are not needed, but it can have other benefits to group members as well. For example, some people have trouble sitting in a meeting and focusing without an active role. By engaging them as a notetaker, for example, they are able to stay mentally present and will be able to tap into their own best contributions.
In some cases, you have a brand new member of the group that holds back or feels out of place contributing because they are so new. If you give them a way to be helpful right away they can feel less awkward and may also have a more socially acceptable way of asking questions. For example, if they are taking notes they may ask for clarity on an acronym that someone just threw out without explanation. They can ask within the context of making sure it gets recorded properly for the notes.
Just to be clear, delegating is not abdicating your role or responsibility as the meeting facilitator. It is important that you continue to preside over the meeting and give group members relief of knowing someone is taking responsibility for keeping the group on track and keeping the focus on the meeting’s purpose. Not sure what your purpose is? Start with the free Energize Your Team Toolkit at the bottom of this post for help in defining your meeting purpose and keeping the meeting on track.
What other ways do you engage group members in roles or tasks before, during or after a meeting?
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