This video is a guide to what a professional meeting facilitator (me) packs in my bag (suitcase) of tricks to make sure my workshops run smoothly.
Transcript from the Video
Welcome, I’m Adriana Girdler and I’m from CornerStone Dynamics. I’m here to share with you today some meeting tips and tricks that are going to make your meetings rock. I want to share with you some of the techniques that I use to help facilitate meetings. I get complimented on this all the time and actually, I get hired a lot to run really important meetings for my clients because I have this ability to keep people on track – it may be partly due to my personality but it’s also the tools and techniques that I use that I want to give credit to – so I want to share this with you. Are you ready?
The first thing that I highly recommend is that you need a bag of tricks. My bag of tricks is literally a suitcase with wheels. This is really important because depending on the meeting and what I need to do, I sometimes carry a lot of stuff in this and when I have a briefcase and everything else, the wheels are huge and very efficient. So let me open up my bag of tricks. So what do I have in here that really makes my meetings rock…well, first and foremost, I love my apron. This apron goes on me and I have my pens, my markers and I also have my tape which allows me to be anywhere in a room and not looking for something. When I am in a meeting, I very much like to work the room and have people move from their chairs and really stand up ideally so that we can get things done. And I will tell you why. Meetings really need to be about getting things done, resolutions, brainstorming and not about updating and sitting around a table. I don’t know how many meetings I fell asleep at just for that reason alone because it is boring. If we are going to get people together, let’s be effective and let’s be efficient! So as a facilitator, the biggest tip is to have everything on you because the last thing you want is to have an idea and then have to walk to the other side of the room to get what you need to be able to capture the idea – so I have all my markers, etc. in my apron. Another thing is painter’s tape. I love putting things on walls and painter’s tape ensures that you don’t take any paint down. I have actually come across companies who don’t allow you to put things on walls which I am floored by because that is how we brainstorm. Paper is awesome.
Which brings up my next point…Paper Technology. I laugh it this because we have a lot of electronic technology but I find that there is something really magically about putting paper up on the wall. I am a big flip chart person – you can see here I have some flip chart paper. I also love big rolls of paper and we will actually roll out a whole wall and on that we will use tons of post-it notes. When we are trying to process map or trying to brainstorm, I will use the post-it notes along with a black sharpie and we just start creating on the wall. It gives everyone a fantastic opportunity to really see what is happening on a grand scale and then be able to zoom in because we are all in the room and they can see it quite clearly. Really cool technique – I get so much done with these (post-it notes) and people actually become very interactive and animated when they themselves start coming with ideas and putting them on sticky notes.
Another part of my arsenal is toys. People, at a point with my meetings say “Adriana, can you bring your PlayDoh in again” because there are 3 types of learners; there is the visual learner, the audio learner and then there are actually ones that need to touch things to be creative. So you should always have toys around in order to help with that. I don’t have tons because then it becomes too much but I have enough in a room so people can definitely play. I invest in these all the time…I should probably invest in the company…I’ll think about that next time.
Another aspect I really highly recommend which also goes to some of the articles that I have spoken about is this lovely bell…kind of like Pavlov’s dogs. I train people right away to accept that when they hear this bell and if we are all talking and creating and there is a lot of noise in the room, that this is an opportunity for us to stop and reconvene and really get to a singular point by one person speaking at a time. Excellent little tool, so much so that I don’t know how many bells I have had to buy because companies, after I leave, ask me to keep the bell. “Can we have that bell…we really love it!”. And of course yes, they may have the bell. It is a really simple tool and technique. The key though, is if you are going to do any of this stuff, you really need to enforce your rules right away. I have these set of rules so at the beginning of a meeting I will introduce logistics and also talk to the rules of the meeting, the session, the working group… whatever you want to call it, whatever it is that you are doing. It just keeps everyone on track and it allows me, as a facilitator, to stop conversations or to engage in conversations by ensuring that we are following the rules. It is a really nice way to keep people on track that is not done in a way where people kind of feel left out or they feel that they are being attacked in any way. You have to be careful of those things.
Another part that I really love is actually my little tackle box (actually for fishing). There is a lot of stuff in here that I want to show you. So again, everything is at my fingertips. Things that I need…if I am in the moment I really look at what is going on in a meeting and sometimes I need to connect people or say I need pencils…I have those. Anything you can think of. If I need a little bit of engagement with people, I have these really awesome cards, that I can use for engagement of people. I have my stapler, I have my tape, anything that I could possibly need to ensure that my meeting runs smooth and I don’t have to ask someone to get it or search for it because that really disrupts the flow of a meeting. I am also a big believer that in meetings, that it is not only about what it is that we have to achieve and the agenda and the goal but it really is how we interact with each other. So, I either open up a meeting with this or I close off a meeting with this because it just really keeps everyone connected…and that is either “I am grateful for” cards where everyone has one and they can end the meeting off with something very positive – they can take it with them. Or what is really nice if you are constantly team building is “What I appreciate about you” cards. You literally go to the person on your left or your right and you write what you appreciate about them so everyone gets an appreciation and you end off the meeting in a really positive way.
These are just some of the many tools and techniques that I use to help make meetings efficient and effective. They are my “go-tos”…this is what I use all the time and I want share it with you so that you yourself can create a “toolbox” or a “tool suitcase” – whatever it may be, that is going to work for you so that you can have everything at your fingertips to run a very successful meeting. On that note, please email me and let me know what stuff you use and perhaps maybe we will mention it in another video. You have a fantastic day.