7 Useful Tips for Facilitating with Technology
1. Focus on the meeting content not the technology Choose tools that are easy to use. During the meeting spend as little time explaining the technology as possible. Help people focus on the issues they have come to work on. The technology will be fun and rewarding, but people will keep asking you back if they accomplish their objectives.
2. Garbage in, garbage out As with any meeting, the quality of the output depends on the quality of the input. So, discuss your topic and background fully before you brainstorm, clarify the level of detail participants need to provide, work through an example and ensure everyone understands the purpose of each exercise as you move through your agenda.
3. Be prepared for greater productivity in your meetings Meeting software provides the power of parallel processing with everyone "talking" at once. As a result, brainstorming and prioritization get done quicker than before and you will need to be prepared for your next agenda item. Work with the meeting owner to review the ideas generated and plan the next step.
4. Make sure you have the right tools to access the information produced Remember that during your meeting you will want to access results of the group's work. Make sure that you the necessary printers, copiers, visual displays, projection screens, etc., available to you. Know when you want participants focusing on their own work and when you want their heads out of the computers.
5. Mix your media -- avoid an "electronic meeting" Vary the facilitation tools and techniques that you use to keep the group motivated and alert. Intense brainstorming activities using laptops can be draining, so break up the meeting into several different activities, take a break and encourage verbal discussion.
6. Use small groups and pairings for brainstorming and idea generation Pairing up participants encourages conversations and interaction, evens out technology skills, and promotes an environment of collaboration. This may not be so appropriate for voting, however, when you may want everyone to have their own ballot!
7. Co-facilitate to build your skills Facilitators using collaboration software must cope with new technology and with the increased volume and pace of information generated. A co-facilitator or technical support person can provide valuable assistance particularly the first time you try a new agenda or work with a new group, with large groups or for long meetings.
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