Applying Results-Based Facilitation Skills in Virtual Meetings

Posted June 25, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A new guide shows how to focus on results in virtual meetings

With the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic mov­ing in-per­son meet­ings to online plat­forms, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion has released a new guide for adapt­ing Results-Based Facil­i­ta­tion™ (RBF) tech­niques to the unique chal­lenges posed by vir­tu­al meet­ings. A fun­da­men­tal skill of the Foundation’s Results Count® frame­work, RBF helps social-sec­tor lead­ers design and con­tribute to meet­ings that move groups to action and hold par­tic­i­pants account­able for their commitments.

Down­load the guide to vir­tu­al meetings

As peo­ple con­tin­ue to work from home, online meet­ings remain the pri­ma­ry way for lead­ers to advance the work of their orga­ni­za­tions and the groups with whom they col­lab­o­rate,” says Jen­nifer Gross, a senior asso­ciate on the Casey Foundation’s Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment team. This new tool shows lead­ers how to effec­tive­ly adjust the core RBF skills for meet­ings in vir­tu­al settings.”

Online meet­ings are different

Dur­ing an online meet­ing, lead­ers and facil­i­ta­tors are less able to read body lan­guage and non­ver­bal cues that pro­vide infor­ma­tion about par­tic­i­pants’ reac­tions and feel­ings. Often all meet­ing par­tic­i­pants are not vis­i­ble on a sin­gle screen. And even when they are, the sep­a­rate, dis­con­nect­ed images in gallery view” hin­der par­tic­i­pants’ abil­i­ty to pay full attention.

To address these and relat­ed chal­lenges, the guide lists prac­ti­cal online adjust­ments to RBF’s six com­pe­ten­cies. Exam­ples of these adap­ta­tions are list­ed below:

  1. Hold roles: Be aware of peo­ples’ roles in meet­ings and main­tain a neu­tral position.
    Exam­ple: Be explic­it about how you will facil­i­tate online (how you will call on peo­ple, how peo­ple can raise hands and how you will use the chat box”) and remind par­tic­i­pants of these norms through­out the meeting.
  2. Hold con­ver­sa­tions: Con­ver­sa­tions are the focus of col­lab­o­ra­tive work; demon­strate open­ness, curios­i­ty and attentiveness.
    Exam­ple: Because large groups have dif­fi­cul­ty engag­ing in extend­ed dis­cus­sions online, take advan­tage of the break­out func­tions in vir­tu­al plat­forms if that option is available.
  3. Hold groups: Groups are com­posed of diverse indi­vid­u­als; sup­port focused con­ver­sa­tions by dis­play­ing work, sequenc­ing top­ics and syn­the­siz­ing conversations.
    Exam­ple: Instead of writ­ing notes on flip charts, set up a Google Doc or, if avail­able, use the vir­tu­al white­board fea­ture to track notes in real time.
  4. Hold 3R meet­ings: Use the 3R frame­work — rela­tion­ships, resources and results — to design and facil­i­tate results-focused meetings.
    Exam­ple: Through rep­e­ti­tion and care­ful atten­tion to par­tic­i­pants’ agree­ments, rein­force progress and indi­vid­ual com­mit­ments through­out the session.
  5. Hold men­tal mod­els: Use a reper­toire of tools — such as, nam­ing and address­ing bar­ri­ers to agree­ment — to nav­i­gate per­son­al men­tal mod­els and implic­it biases.
    Exam­ple: Nor­mal­ize the role of con­flict. Acknowl­edge the arti­fi­cial nature of the vir­tu­al set­ting and how it might make a spir­it­ed exchange difficult.
  6. Hold action and results: Help meet­ing par­tic­i­pants com­mit to aligned action and be account­able for their con­tri­bu­tion to results. Exam­ple: Send meet­ing slides, work­books and work­sheets ahead of time and resend as part of the meet­ing fol­low up.

Among the guide’s gen­er­al sug­ges­tions is offer­ing par­tic­i­pants a brief tuto­r­i­al or a dry run 15 min­utes before the meet­ing begins if they are new to the vir­tu­al plat­form. A 15-minute pre-start also pro­vides every­one with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make sure video and audio con­nec­tions are working.

Learn addi­tion­al Results Count skills for lead­ers respond­ing to COVID-19

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