Leading a Meeting? Here Are the Communication Skills You Need

Not only does the meeting facilitator need to be a skilled communicator, but he or she also has to monitor others’ communication to keep the meeting focused and on schedule. Here are a few communication tools to help you facilitate communication.

Skill Strategies
Communicating nonverbally Use eye contact and an open and attentive posture; nod and match facial expression to what the speaker is saying.
Encouraging participation Use participants’ names, praise contributions, play devil’s advocate and ask open-ended questions.
Listening Paraphrase what was said, ask follow-up questions and ask others to comment on what was said.
Summarizing Objectively condense the discussion into key points, giving credit to participants for their contributions.
Redirecting conversation Use phrases like “Let’s review what we’ve done so far,” or “With only a few minutes left, let’s finish up our discussion.”
Transitioning to next topic Use phrases like, “Great job, everyone; now let’s tackle the next agenda item,” or “I can see we still have more to discuss, but let’s table it for now so we can move on to the next topic.”
Mediating conflict Paraphrase the essence of each side and remind everyone that each perspective has merit.
Interrupting Say, “You obviously feel strongly about this,” or “You certainly know a lot about this,” and then add “so let’s see what [name another participant] has to say about it.”
Balancing participation Use the same strategy as for interrupting, and call on those who have not contributed by name, saying, “Bob, you haven’t had a chance to share your ideas yet. What do you think?”
Staying neutral Acknowledge to yourself that, like everyone else, you have biases, and examine how that bias may affect your behavior and communication; then, with that awareness, commit to setting your bias aside to remain objective during the meeting.

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