The Importance of the Facilitator RoleSituation: Your agenda is finalized, your content is crisp, your members have confirmed, all hotel details are taken care of, and you are ready for a great Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting. You even have an expert facilitator to emcee the meeting. All is in order ... or is it?
Reality Check: A well-facilitated CAB meeting requires an experienced facilitator who is familiar with the host company's industry, is able to adapt to unexpected changes, and has the right tools to keep sessions engaging and interesting. When working with your internal team and facilitator, consider the following:
- In addition to the facilitator, will you have the right Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the room to respond to specific questions?
- Have you developed interactive sessions that will foster dialog among members and the host team? If so, make sure your facilitator has the right tools to run those sessions.
- Have you given consideration to the best way to capture member feedback? How many team members will be assisting with capturing that feedback? Facilitators have to concentrate on the mechanics of the session while thinking ahead to the next question. Having a team member who is familiar with the content and context of the discussions to assist with note taking is always helpful.
- Will there be breakout sessions (smaller group discussions) running simultaneously? If so, be sure to assign a facilitator and note taker to each session.
- Flipcharts are your friend in CAB meetings, so be sure to have plenty on hand. Take a quick survey of the meeting room early and decide how you will display the flipcharts.
- Be sure your facilitator knows your customers' personalities and set expectations for him/her. Identify those who may be particularly vocal or a bit shy - a good facilitator will know how to ensure balanced participation across the group.
Conclusion: You should be able to count on your facilitator to keep the energy level high, setting the pace for the meeting. They should also understand the "power of the pen" and the importance of recording the participants' words (not necessarily all of them) instead of their own. And finally, they should be able to carry the group through the process of each session - smoothly transitioning from one topic to the next, using check points along the way, giving accurate, clear and concise instructions.