Who called this meeting? How to facilitate a successful meeting

By Deborah Palmer, Director, Communications and Engagement

Meetings are a common part of everyday business. Done well, they have the potential to bring people together, clarify and set direction, and lead to action. Done poorly, they can be de-motivating and a significant drain on time and resources, with few outcomes.

Successful meetings don’t happen by chance. They depend at least in part on the effectiveness of the meeting chair or facilitator.

So, what does the ‘Elton Consulting Brains Trust’ have to say on how to facilitate successful meetings…?

Key to the Elton Consulting method of facilitation is remembering that the role doesn’t begin and end in the meeting room. To increase success, a facilitator needs to factor in a range of steps before, during and after a meeting:

Hybrid meeting formatBefore

  • Decide between face-to-face, online or hybrid formats, and relevant tools (e.g. butchers paper or an online equivalent like Mural), to make the meeting as accessible and engaging as possible for all participants.
  • Prepare for and structure meetings so everyone knows the purpose and business of the meeting and how to participate. Preparation for the meeting should include making sure that everyone is comfortable with any tools that may be used. If you’re using any new tools, consider sending a quick guide to attendees prior to the meeting so that they can familiarise themselves with any potential set up or actions required on their end.
  • Consider arranging for someone to take meeting notes for you, so you can focus on facilitation.


  • Manage the process and people so that discussions stay on track, outcomes are achieved on time and everyone is engaged constructively.
  • Close the conversation, making sure you have understanding and clarity on next steps, including who will do what.

CE_Facilit_V1Facilitation brings people of diverse interests, backgrounds and capabilities together to develop solutions. Using an independent facilitator can support you to achieve the outcomes you need to work cooperatively and effectively. Learn more.


  • Ensure follow up occurs through effective minutes or notes.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting leading to opportunities for ongoing improvement.

And as you move through each of the three stages outlined above, it is worth thinking about the three Ps:

  • purpose
  • people
  • process.

If the three Ps are well managed in each stage, you will be more successful in your role as a facilitator.

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