Great meetings include certain, repeatable characteristics.  A high level of participation frequently indicates the opportunity for a great meeting.  What encourages participation? Here are some meeting participation tips worth reviewing.

We share select characteristics with you through the sequence they would occur in a well-conducted meeting; namely the beginning, the middle, and the end.  The following is not meant to be exhaustive, as supporting detail is found in other blogs.  However, we find the following to rank among the most important items for inciting high levels of meeting participation and collaboration.

Beginning (aka Preparation) Phase

Meeting results and ownership need to be transferred to the participants from the very beginning.  Optimally, meting participants should review the purpose, scope, and objectives (ie, deliverables) before the meeting begins.  They need to verify that they understand and find them acceptable, or have an opportunity to provide their input to changes something before the meeting begins.  They should also review the method and tools that will be used to ensure that they find the approach sound.  Remember, they will be held responsible for the outcome.

Meeting Participation (Preparation)

A glossary or lexicon should be included in the pre-read or handout so that individuals can refer back to the operational definitions of terms as challenges arise.  People within groups frequently find themselves in violent agreement with each other, and it’s imperative that all the participants agree on what is meant by the terms being used in the purpose, scope, and objectives.  Typically, the glossary should be maintained by the project team, project management office, program office, or strategic center of excellence.  Teams do not normally have time to argue about the difference between a vendor and a contractor or a bill and an invoice.   Unless the definitions are part of the deliverable, they should be determined in advance.

When meetings or workshops are held to support projects, it’s invaluable for participants to know and understand the purpose and objectives of the project, the reason the project was approved (ie, program goals), and the goals and objectives of the mandating organization (ie, the strategic plan of the business unit and/ or enterprise).  Ultimately, all arguments should be resolved by which position best supports reaching the enterprise objectives. Optimally, the meeting room should have large, visible copies of enterprise mission, values, and vision.  Handout material should include the more detailed goals (ie, fuzzy and directional) objectives (ie, specific and SMART).

Biographic sketches of other meeting members can inspire empathy and understanding. With virtual meetings, be certain to include photographs that show the face behind the voice.  If you provide supplemental reading material, strive to customize a cover letter for each participant highlighting the pages or sections upon which they should focus, rather than suggesting they give their entire and equal attention to everything in the handout. Prompt each subject matter expert in advance with the questions that will be raised during the meeting most pertinent to them or their role.  Ask them to focus on those questions since you will turn to them for the first response when the question is raised.

Ultimately the session leader (aka facilitator) is responsible for tying together the relevancy of the issues mentioned above, known as managing the context.  The session leader needs to emphasize the importance of the meeting output to the organization, hopefully expressed in terms of how many financial assets or labor hours (eg, FTE) are at risk if the meting fails.

If the session leader and the participants show up prepared, chances of success are highly amplified. The term ‘facilitate’ means to ‘make easy’ and if you embrace the suggestions above and in the next two blogs, you will see meeting participation substantially increase.  More importantly, you will have properly begun transfer of ownership and responsibility from the solo session leader to the group or team, as it should be.


In conclusion, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology.  Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Some call this immersion. We call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Become Part of the Solution While You Improve Your Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology Skills

Take a class or forward this to someone who should. MG RUSH Professional Facilitation Training provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, and 3.2 CEUs. As a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), our Professional Facilitation Training aligns with IAF Certification Principles and fully prepares alumni for their Certified Professional Facilitator designation.

Furthermore, our Professional Facilitation curriculum immerses students in the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Because nobody is smarter than everybody, attend an MG RUSH Professional Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology workshop offered around the world, see MG RUSH for a current schedule.

Go to the Facilitation Training Store to access our in-house resources. Finally, you will discover numerous annotated agendas, break timers, and templates. If you value our contributions, take time to buy us a cup of coffee and punch LIKE or FORWARD.

In conclusion, we dare you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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  1. brother on the lighter part of corporate ( but still practical side too) car write something on when meetings are hijacked by Sr. Members. 🙂

    with regards
    The Deepak Sharma

    • Sincere Reply to The Deepak Sharma and Others,

      From the standpoint of a professional facilitator, there is no secret to being successful during a meeting if you have not adequately prepared. An essential part of optimal preparation includes interviewing your participants and helping them prepare as well. During meetings, in the facilitator’s role, you are no longer playing other roles such as parent, consumer, or vehicle driver—roles that suggest different rules. Likewise, there are no senior or junior members, only meeting participants, through which every voice is equal. Participants must leave there titles in the hallway as they enter the meeting room.

      If they don’t like the concept, then tell them to deliver their answer in advance, because there is not need to have a meeting if there mind is already made up. Meetings are not a good forum for persuasion, and they are very expensive. On the other had, if they do value others’ inputs, then they need to behave like all the other participants in the room, and remove their seniority at the threshold or entry portal to the meeting room. They pick it up on the way out.

      Alternatively, see other prior and future blogs (eg, ) about the holarchy of a meeting and how to create alignment among varying points of view and consider taking the FAST class that makes understanding all this material a lot easier.

      Thanks for your input.

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