How to Effectively Facilitate a Meeting

Strong Leadership

Effective board meetings start with strong leadership. While association presidents most often facilitate board meetings, any leader or facilitator may apply the techniques below.

  1. The president must provide a clear understanding of the board’s purpose in order to ensure the successful operation of the organization.  
  2. A firm but fair board president who decisively establishes rules of engagement, follows an agenda, and demonstrates strong listening and communication skills will be most effective.
  3. Strong leaders will work to meet the primary interests of all parties by collaborating with individuals to develop a solution that addresses everyone’s needs.

Active Listening

The president must be able to listen to all parties without judgment and bias in order to reach an effective solution. 

  1. Remain engaged
  2. Make sure others feel understood
  3. Suspend judgment
  4. Evaluate and consider creative options that improve mutual agreement

Leaving a Positive Impression   

Statements that create a negative impression with the audience


Statements that create a positive impression with the audience

I believe... vs. Our experts recommend... or Others have had success...
I have an idea/suggestion... vs. We have a solution/approach...
We're going to do a role play... vs. We will do a skill practice.
I highly recommend... (Speaker is right) vs. We might have a better outcome if we... (Speaker is effective)
Does anyone have any suggestions? (Open ended) vs. Is there anything that I can clarify? (In reference to presentation)
What else would you like me to talk about? vs. Is there anything that I can discuss in more detail?
That's a bad idea... vs. That may be a poor choice because...
I disagree... vs. We see it differently.
Don't forget... vs. Please remember to...
You guys should... vs. As owners you will decide...

Communicating Effectively  

  1. Educate and inform. Speakers and educators should be well prepared and have an in-depth understanding of the topic so that he or she may respond to an objection or question knowledgably.
  2. Reassure. Remain neutral and calm. Empathize with others’ concerns and offer appropriate and realistic solutions.
  3. Respect. Treat an objection like a question. The speaker should listen for the meaning behind the objection and address it by clarifying his or her point.

Article adapted from “Effective Board Meetings” by Ken Bade in Association Times. Bade  is the CEO and president at Lewis Management Resources in Tucson, AZ, an Associa company; and from a presentation by Steve Weil, ESQ., Ken Kosloff, and Ian Brown titled “Advanced Communication Skills for Board Members.”

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