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Even a lousy facilitator will succeed at building consensus when they draw line of sight from the meeting deliverable to the quality of life of the meeting participants.

When meeting output directly impacts participants, they help the facilitator be more effective.


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds - Foundation for Building Consensus

Building Consensus – Modern Facilitative Leadership

Highly effective facilitators know what ‘done’ looks like. Before the meeting begins they are able to clearly describe the deliverable from the meeting. They can also explain what is at risk if the meeting fails. They prove value by the amount of money or FTP (ie, full-time person) wasted if the group fails to deliver. Effective meetings begin with clear deliverables.

Knowing ‘where’ your group is going provides a strong sense of leadership. It is easy to follow a leader who knows where they are going. Conversely, when the leader is uncertain what they need, what they are asking, or what they should be doing, it is easy to disengage from the session and disown the results.

An effective leader knows what ‘done’ looks like for every step in the agenda. They know how each step relates to meeting deliverables and the logic that drives sequencing agenda steps. They can effectively explain the white space, or the space between the lines on a simple agenda. Before your meeting starts, you better know what each step looks like, before you begin to layer in content. We call this insight contextual control. Are you building a list, a statement, a matrix, a model, or something else? If crafting a policy for example, determine if the policy statement should be five words, five-hundred words, or five pages long? The only wrong answer is when the meeting leader does not know what it looks like before the step begins.


Effective meeting leaders can become doubly effective when they combine their line of sight with facilitative skills. Active listening while providing reflection of BOTH what participants are saying and why they are saying it along with remaining neutral and non-judgmental are the most critical skills to effective meeting management. Reflection does not always need to be verbal. Facilitators that use easels to write down participant input provide a visual reflection that is both immediate and easy to confirm.

Experienced facilitators know that more is better.  They capture participant input verbatim which will never get them in trouble. You should also embrace the principles of Brainstorming at all times. Quickly gather all substantive input without discussion (diverge) and then go back to clarify, challenge, and modify the original input (analysis). Do NOT combine gathering and discussing at the same time in an unstructured discussion. After the analysis of the raw input, your refined output can be confirmed (converged) as content the group can support (professional test of consensus) and not lose any sleep over (personal test of consensus).


When you know where you are going and have competently embraced the skills of effective leadership, you will still be challenged with HOW are you going to lead a group from the Introduction to the Wrap. The sequence of steps, activities, and questions captures the method you may use to lead your group. Meeting method implies more than one right answer but the WRONG answer is if you have no method or do not know how you are going to build your deliverable.

During FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership classes, we provide clear instruction, demonstration, and student practice on six different methods of prioritization.Each applies at different points along a decision-making continuum ranging from simple to complicated through complex. Take time to build and document your method before your meeting begins, because once the meeting begins, you need your energy to focus on leading, listening, and policing your participants.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

Want a free 10-minute break timer? Signup for our once-monthly newsletter HERE and receive a timer along with four other of our favorite facilitation tools, free.


Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices 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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