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Get the most from your conference facilitator

Audiences now demand more opportunities to engage and contribute at conferences and want more interactivity and relevance from speakers. A professional facilitator, who is well-briefed and clear about the meeting objectives, can significantly improve both the delegate experience and the meetings’ outcome.

Here are our top 5 tips for getting the most from your facilitator:

  • 1) Book the facilitator at the beginning of the planning and content creation stage and let them speak to the most senior stakeholders and discuss the meeting in as much detail as possible. This helps them to build trust with your senior team, develop an understanding of your desired outcomes and gives them the opportunity to absorb invaluable knowledge about your organisation that will help them build credibility with your audience.

  • 2) Be honest with your facilitator — they will want to know details like how you will assess whether the conference has been a success. What do you want the audience to think, feel or do differently after the meeting? And what thoughts, feelings (or fears) the audience will bring with them into the conference room? If there is going to be an ‘elephant in the room’ they need to know about it!

  • 3) Resist the temptation to tell your facilitator HOW it should be done. They are adept at steering discussions to your ultimate destination without being constrained by a detailed script. Experienced facilitators are attuned to the ‘energy’ within a conference room and instinctively know how and when to shift gears to keep engagement levels high.

  • 4) Be pragmatic, if any of your top team are poor speakers, don’t put them (or the audience) through such torture. Get the facilitator to interview them instead. Find out what the speaker needs to say — then let the facilitator draw out that content in a more relaxed environment. It also adds variety to the event by breaking up a ‘conveyor belt’ of PowerPoint presentations.

  • 5) Time spent rehearsing is never wasted. If you are using interactive event tech of any sort, the facilitator needs to be familiar and comfortable with the technology you have chosen. Set aside time for a proper run-through onsite. Rehearsing in front of an audience is never a good idea.

When a good facilitator is briefed correctly they can take your meeting to another level.

Call OSP to discuss your next event and for info on some of the best facilitators out there.

With thanks to Roy Sheppard www.Facilitator.Expert/Package.pdf