Delivering successful meetings, conferences and events can be a complex and stressful business. So a quick glance at a definition of the word ‘facilitate’ – the act of making easier the progress or improvement of something – may offer some comfort to those keen to explore hiring a professional ‘facilitator’.
Five ways a professional facilitator can help you achieve success
We all know facilitators are supposed to help you stick to time, stay on topic and achieve your meeting objectives. But how else can they help? Drawing on over 25 years of direct experience in designing and facilitating meetings, here are five more ways professional facilitators can help make delivering highly successful events a little easier.
1. Shaping the agenda and participant experience
A good professional facilitator can help you bake success into your meetings way before they turn up at the event and long after it has ended. Get them involved early and you can harness their wealth of experience in pre-event research and activities, agenda design and flow, ice-breakers, energisers, evening activities, interactive exercises (either traditional or tech based), collaboration and decision making techniques, action planning processes and post-event measurement.
2. Enabling leaders to play to their strengths
Just as a good facilitator focuses on the meeting process, not on the meeting content, so leaders should be free to focus on being strategic and delivering their key messages with authority and not confuse the audience by trying to be the facilitator too. I’ve never heard a rousing keynote, delivered by a senior leader, start with… ‘A few words on housekeeping’. A good facilitator will not hog the limelight light, but work with the speakers, often behind the scenes, to enable them to shine.
3. Tackling the tricky topics head on
An external facilitator is ideally placed to help tackle even the trickiest topics, live at the event. Their independent status enables them to ask the controversial but essential questions, often on behalf of the audience from the conference room floor. And then, with the pre-agreed permission of senior leaders, get participants involved in co-creating solutions to these challenges, skilfully harnessing the inherently diverse nature of conference audiences to collaborate and identify creative options.
4. Driving up collaboration
Perhaps no one knows how to achieve success for your business better than all those people you’ve invested in, by inviting them to be at your event. Now you need a return on that investment; for people to be participants in your meeting, not ‘delegates’ or worse still ‘attendees’. And no one knows how to get participants collaborating to address real business issues at an event better than a professional facilitator, drawing on a wealth of techniques to get everyone working together, despite whatever sets them apart.
5. Driving concrete outcomes
Now we get to the awkward question; what are your participants actually going to do as a consequence of your event? Not only can an external facilitator ask the awkward question directly, they can also bring their relentless energy and infectious enthusiasm to inspire participants to give good answers. And through their experience they can share methodologies and technologies to ensure that concrete outcomes are identified, captured and can be followed up – post-event.
Delivering successful events can indeed be a complex and stressful business, especially if you only do it once or twice a year. Successful professional facilitators deal with these challenges day in and day out; it is their business. With their help you can have successful events – made easier; made easier for conference organisers, leaders, speakers and participants alike.
Contact us to find out how we can make your life easier and your conference a success!