Meet for Success:
The Meeting Facilitator’s Role in the Successful Development of a Marketing Plan
Critical to the development of a marketing plan is building an open and honest collaboration between the parties involved. To build an effective marketing strategy, you need to know the good, the bad and the ugly regarding your company’s/product’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the market and internally. What are the opportunities to break into new markets? What is the long-term viability of your company or product? Inevitably this process of gathering and sifting through the combination of data and opinions is going to require terribly busy people to step away from the demands of their day to help.
Employing the skills of a meeting facilitator is an investment well worth its cost. Whether it is an employee trained as a meeting facilitator or an outside facilitator, creating structured, productive meetings will help you build a strategic plan for success. The facilitator’s responsibility focus on three primary areas: Meeting Planning; Meeting Delivery; and Meeting Follow-up.
A Team Effort: Facilitators and Project Managers
Meeting planning and execution is a collaborative effort between the facilitator and project manager. Preparation for a facilitated meeting includes the following steps.
- Define meeting objectives to keep the meeting focused and provide a clear guide to all attendees as to what needs to be accomplished and the expected outcomes.
- Identify required deliverables to keep the meeting productive plan and participants working toward common goals.
- Determining the meeting approach. Will it be a traditional face-to-face meeting, or will it be held virtually? These decisions are based on the participants involved and their availability.
- Determine the decision-making process. This will ensure that decision-making is efficient and effective.
- Outline roles and responsibilities to create an environment that encourages full participation while keeping the meeting on track.
- Identify participants to make sure the right people are in attendance to accomplish the meeting objectives.
- Determine if a meeting is necessary and if so, set the date, time and location. The facilitator determines if the reason for the meeting is essential to the project, requires collaborative action and will include the right people.
- Create the meeting agenda.
- Prepare participants by answering the question, "What’s in it for me?" Communicate meeting goals so that participants can see how they bring value to the meeting.
- Identify logistical needs including arranging for catering, access to location for participants, ensure the technology and supplies for the meeting are at hand, have contact information for facility management to quickly resolve any unexpected issues.
- Create, prepare and gather the tools of the facilitator and project manager including meeting handouts; flip charts, power points and/or signage; tools to capture data generated during the meeting; how feedback from participants regarding the meeting format and execution; and timeline and those responsible for meeting follow-up.
Facilitators keep meetings open, inclusive and transparent by monitoring discussions for length but never making them feel rushed. Meetings are ushered at a focused, thoughtful pace permitting frank deliberation of the issues at hand.