Extension offers tips to make each meeting count

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Specialists say the art of facilitation, power of science can get results

Meetings are a necessary part of the work environment, allowing staff and executives to confer as a group on important decisions and policies, share information and be on the same page about current news and events. But, sometimes, it can feel like nothing is getting accomplished and one is spinning their wheels. And having more meetings do not necessarily resolve issues or ensure progress, suggesting that deeper issues are at play.

So if getting solid results from each and every meeting setting is important in work environments where time is scarce for everyone, then University of Extension community development specialists, who are trained to be expert facilitators, have some helpful advice.

"By delivering the art of facilitation with the power of science, facilitators can lead focus groups and get results," said Dr. Amy Patillo, community development specialist with the Extension.

The specialists share four key benefits to any meeting facilitation:

They can engage people in a group process, from problem-solving and decision-making, to open communication and buy-in

Two, they are a neutral external facilitator committed to delivering best practices for desired outcomes

Three, they can also provide actionable and measurable plans with timelines to achieve your goals

Four, they can provide a complete report including agenda, group processing, priority goals, action items, outcomes and follow-up information for a team's success

Patillo says while powerful and financially-dependent decision makers may often decide issues, giving people the ability to engage in the process, collect relevant information, address issues with intelligence and apply problem-solving, empowers mutual understanding and shared commitment to outcomes.

"The key differentiating factor in the success of an organization is not just the products and services, not just its technology or market share, but the organization's ability to elicit, harness and focus the intellectual capital and goodwill in their members, employees and stakeholders," she said.

When those processes begin to come to life, Patillo says the organization becomes a powerful force for positive change in today's business and societal environments.

For more information about meeting facilitation, contact your local Barry County Extension office at 417-847-3161.

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