How to Help Your Meeting Participants Become Better Listeners

The facilitator is ideally situated to help meeting participants become better listeners. Dr Ralph Nichols, “Father of the Field of Listening”, notes three behaviors that perfectly align with the roles of facilitator, and you ought exhibit to amplify listening during meetings.

One is to anticipate the speaker’s next point
. As facilitator, your anticipation helps shape your direction. For example, should you be walking closer to the speaker or to the facilitator’s easel to capture their comments? As meeting participants,if they anticipate correctly, learning has been reinforced. If they anticipate incorrectly, they wonder why and this helps to increase attention.

Another is to identify the supporting elements a speaker uses in building points. Here is the primary role of the facilitator, to help extract the most significant contributions. Next ensure that the supporting elements are captured and recorded, preferably on a facilitator’s easel, so that all the meeting participants can view the same information.

Build understanding among your participants about supporting their thoughts, or as we say in the FASTcurriculum “Make Your Thinking Visible.” Typically speakers rely on three methods to build points:

Better Listening

  1. They explain the point,
  2. They get emotional and harangue the point, or
  3. They illustrate the point with a factual illustration.

A sophisticated listener knows this. He or she spends a little of the differential between thought speed and speaking speed to identify what is being used as point-supporting material. This behavior becomes highly profitable in terms of listening efficiency.

A third way to improve the listening skills of your participants is to periodically make summaries of the points that have been recorded. Good listeners take advantage of short pauses to summarize and absorb what has been said. Periodic summaries reinforce learning tremendously.

Most of us are poor listeners for a variety of reasons. We have had little training and few training opportunities exist (although the FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership class is a significant exception). We think faster than others speak. Plus, listening is hard work and requires complete concentration. It is a challenge to be a good listener, but good listeners get big rewards.

Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember friends, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

About Facilitation Instructor
President of Morgan Madison & Company, through professional and academic endeavors, Terrence has focused on improving group decision-making quality. His experience has proven that: 1. Evidence-based information assures higher quality decisions. 2. Properly managed conflict, provides groups with more “options” to consider —
 and groups with more options have been proven to make higher quality decisions. With a Baccalaureate in Science from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and a MBA from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, Metz’s core competency has focused on rhetoric: the process of adjusting ideas to people and people to ideas. He is a founding principal partner and president at MG RUSH and a certified Six Sigma Green Belt® from Motorola University. CRC Press, part of Taylor and Francis, publishers since 1798, published his recent book, “Change or Die: Business Process Improvement Manual”. Terrence introduced the concept of holism to the field of structured facilitation as a method for keeping discussions on target and aligning deliverables within and throughout an enterprise. As a public speaker and instructor, he strives to reduce ‘noise’ and ‘distractions’ so that groups and teams can be more successful. Terrence is passionate about using and teaching the FAST Facilitation technique so that people and teams make more informed decisions. He made the FAST technique more robust by adding and enhancing decision-making tools such as PowerBalls and the FAST quantitative SWOT technique that is used worldwide by Fortune 1000 companies. Since 1999, Terrence has taught over three hundred classes.

3 Responses to How to Help Your Meeting Participants Become Better Listeners

  1. Pingback: 15 Fun and Quick Tips to Help You Become a More Successful Facilitative Leader « Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

  2. Pingback: How to Facilitate Group or Team Decision-Making Using a “Pros and Cons” Tool « Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

  3. Pingback: Problems Encountered in Meetings by Other Facilitators and Some Suggestions | Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

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