Participants of my facilitation trainings often ask how to make people enjoy the meeting, so that the meeting would be better. The right approach is to organize better meetings, so that people will then enjoy them and thus be motivated to contribute.
Good facilitation of meetings is even more valuable at current times, when remote meetings are the standard. Here is my tool for having a successful meeting, the GRASS model.
There are five areas to focus on to organize a successful meeting.
When everyone is clear about what we try to achieve, we can maintain the focus and also know when we are ready.
In practice: define either in advance or together in the beginning of the meeting what is the goal of this meeting.
Room to think
When participants have time to think, the group will produce better ideas. First make room for everybody to think for a while, then give time to share ideas and listen to the others.
In practice: give participants some time to think alone. Then split the group into pair or small group discussions, even if takes more work in remote meetings. It will pay back as highly increased contribution and thus better outcome of the meeting.
People will engage only if the decision to participate in the meeting is made by themselves. The more the participants have control once the meeting is going, the more engaged they will remain.
In practice: let people decide if they join or not. Explain why they are needed, either to contribute or to learn something themselves. Don’t decide every small detail in the meeting itself, but let people self-organize instead.
Group’s shared time is used better when everyone focuses to the same thing at the same time. Visualizing things or writing them down also ensures we understand things in the same way.
In practice: make people to write down their ideas. People are more likely to share their ideas when they have first written them down. Then let people share the ideas in small groups, and again write down best ideas together. Finally, present ideas to everybody and decide how to proceed.
Now that the goal is in place, there is room to think, people have autonomy and shared focus, you still need to take care that there is progress towards the goal. This comes from having a structure in place, which ensures that you have all the needed steps in place and there is time for every step. Having the structure in place prevents you from using too much time in the beginning and having to rush in the end.
In practice: plan in advance how you will reach the goal of the meeting and how much time is needed. If all the steps don’t fit, you need to lower the goal or add more time.
GRASS model can be used as a guide to facilitating a full workshop. It can also be used to improve any meeting at least a little: whether you are the facilitator or a participant, you can always check if you can somehow clarify the Goal; allow more Room to Think; give participants Autonomy; create better Shared Focus; or take better care of the meeting Structure.
There is more about the GRASS model in my older post: https://coachjarkko.com/2016/01/12/from-crappy-meetings-to-happy-meetings/