So, it’s time to have your annual meeting again, or maybe your quarterly meeting (or, god forbid, you can’t remember the last time you pulled everyone together for a meeting). And you’re wracking your brain to come up with an agenda for the morning/afternoon/day that won’t bore everyone but also won’t feel like a waste of time. What, oh what, should you do? Should you try and run the meeting yourselves, or should you consider hiring a facilitator? Here are reasons why it might be worth it for you to bring in an outside gun to facilitate your meeting.
1. Stretch the Boundaries. Someone outside your organization can help you see beyond your current boundaries, stumbling blocks, and biases. An outsider isn’t bound by the status quo of your organization, and may be more able to see what could be, not constrained by what is.
2. Outside Expertise. Not only is an outsider free to compel your team to stretch, they are more likely to be perceived as an expert on the topics covered. It can be difficult at times for organizations, particularly close-knit ones, to see each other as knowledgeable enough to provide new insights or ideas. An outsider may be more openly received as the purveyor of new information.
3. One of the gang. If you or other leaders are busy planning and runningthe meeting, there’s no way for you to also participate in it. What a wonderful treat for you to get to join in with the rest of your team in thought exercises, learning games, and other teambuilding opportunities. A facilitator frees you up to do just that.
4. Fresh Fun. Any of us who run meetings, facilitate sessions, or present to groups of any type have a bag of tricks that we go to for icebreakers, for teambuilding, for brainstorming, and so on. We like them, we know they work, we’re comfortable dipping into that bag again and again. When we bring in a facilitator, they have their own bag of tricks. With their guidance, you and your team can try all-new ways of coming together and learning from each other.
5. A sign of commitment. Let’s be honest. Most of our workplaces are “meetinged” to death. It can be challenging to overcome the meeting fatigue that many of our staffers bring into the room every time they gather. When you pay to bring in an outside facilitator, you are showing your team that this meeting matters, that you are willing to commit (often limited) resources to achieve your goals.
This is not to say that a team can’t hold an effective internal meeting, or that a facilitator should be brought in for every “important” meeting. But there may be times when it’s worth the time and resources to find and hire a qualified person to provide your organization with guidance and direction.
Becky Eason, PhD, is the President of WordCraft LLC and loves to facilitate group meetings