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Getting participants to focus on the same thing at the same time represents one of the hardest thing to accomplish with a group of people. Therefore, learning to remove distractions reflects a core skill and primary responsibility of the meeting leader.

Your Rosetta Stone: Remove Distractions

Remember that all questions you have about what you can or should do may be answered by the question, “Is it a distraction or not?” If it is not a distraction, then it should be acceptable. If it is a distraction, then it is your responsibility to remove distractions so that your group can remain focused on topic.

For example, if you put your hands in pocket to rest for a few minutes, it is probably OK.  However, if you start juggling your keys or coins, the distraction is unacceptable. If a participant closes their eyes, let them rest. If they start snoring, then intervene to remove the distraction.

Core Skills Where You Need to Remove DistractionsEffective Facilitators Remember to Remove Distractions to Provide More Focus

As a facilitator, you need to manage four core skills including presentation, active listening, questioning, and observation/ neutrality.  For these to be effective, you must reduce or eliminate distractions so that the group can stay focused.

These four core skills are critical to effective facilitation.

  1. Presentation skills are necessary for effective communication
  2. Active listening is a tool for effective understanding
  3. Questioning is a tool for effective information gathering
  4. Neutrality is a tool for balance and integrity

Removing distractions is an essential discipline for core skills and may guide all of your behavior.

Note for example the challenges that correspond with the four skills:

  1. Verbal disfluencies and fillers such as saying “Uhm” too often
  2. Observing something else when the meeting participant is talking
  3. Providing answers rather than method
  4. Making judgements or using the word “I” too often

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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.

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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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