Imagine you are planning an important meeting, your first priority might be the agenda, followed by attendees and the venue. No doubt dietary requirements will raise their head along with a host of other minutiae.
Then, days out from the meeting you’ll revisit the agenda, realising there’s too much content, too much listening to presentations, very little interaction with no time to agree actions. Afterwards, people will thank you for your efforts, comment that it was good to catch up with one another and go back to their day job, unchanged. Leaving you wondering if the coffee breaks were in fact the most valuable element of the day!
To ensure the investment of peoples’ time generates a healthy return for the business consider engaging an external facilitator to:
- Challenge the agenda – being impartial, a facilitator can ask why the same message is repeated by different presenters.
- Support the presenters – from spotting illegible font sizes in slide decks to coaching speakers, a good facilitator will positively influence all aspects of your day.
- Maintaining energy – the antidote to death by PowerPoint are table discussions, group exercises and appropriate icebreakers. Good facilitators know when to insert a change of pace and should have a stock of additional energisers in their back pocket if required.
- Keep people safe – from monitoring ventilation to tackling inappropriate behaviour, part of the facilitators role is to remove the anxiety that many delegates feel during a conference.
- Record the outcomes – handing over a bundle of flip chart sheets at 5pm will have no impact after the event. Effective facilitators will summarise the day’s achievements and motivate attendees to work differently going forward.
A professional facilitator is just that. Like any professional service, expect to pay a fee, factors like group size, duration, location and the facilitator’s reputation will determine the cost. As a guide, expect to pay £500 for a small group for a couple of hours, to £2500 for a large full day conference.
The most successful event planners involve the facilitator from the outset, picking their brains on the fundamentals like meeting room layout, AV and which venues are giving the best rates. And the best facilitators know they do their best work when given the opportunity to prepare alongside the client, so even if your next event is several months away make contact now.