Mid-Meeting Actions

The vast majority of the work is in the pre-meeting planning. Doing that work thoroughly and earnestly will set facilitators up for success, but the mid-meeting actions are critical for carrying out the plan.

Reinforce the Norms

Build Trust

A few key actions will help build trust, including but not limited to:

  • Allow each facilitator to introduce themselves in ways that show their expertise and their humanity
  • Allow participants to introduce themselves if the size of the group is relatively small
  • Demonstrate genuine interest in what the participants are saying throughout by using positive body language and returning to points made by the participants
  • Show gratitude for everyone's time and effort in participating in the meeting
  • Learn names and make an effort to pronounce them correctly
  • Learn preferred pronouns, though do not require that participants identify their preferred pronouns publicly

Implement Activities

The agenda provides guidelines for the meeting, but facilitators should find a balance between sticking to the agenda and making space for deeper moments. This can be challenging because it involves judgment calls. Remain focused the meeting goals to determine where extra time on some activities or topics might be beneficial. Along the way, consider these strategies:

  • Group Work: Consider socially engineering discussion groups to decrease power dynamics that may impact the discussions and to expose participants to different perspectives. Similarly, within discussions recognize when a few people are dominating the discussion and others are not contributing. An approach that is usually successful is to gently let the former group know that you want to hear from others and then call on the quieter participants to see if they want to add anything.
  • Response Strategies: Remember to use the effective response strategies listed above, and not to use the ineffective ones.
  • Recharge and Reflect: Facilitation can be stressful, especially if conversation has been tense. Do not skip breaks in the agenda (though you can make them shorter if needed). Use that time to recharge and to reflect on how the meeting is going. If you need to change strategies or return to a previous topic, let the participants know at the start of the next part of the meeting.

Check In with Everyone

Check in with co-facilitator(s) and with participants as the meeting progresses. For multi-day meetings, have a survey 'road check' of anonymous feedback on how the meeting is going, read them overnight, reflect on them with all co-facilitators, and potentially adjust the next day's agenda accordingly. For shorter meetings, breaks could be used to check in with co-facilitators and/or participants that may need additional discussion.

Provide a Conclusion

End the meeting with some summary of what was accomplished, a reminder of any action items, and a charge to continue to work on equitable and inclusive practices and policies. The work is a lifetime vocation, not a one-and-done effort from a single meeting.

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These webpages are based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences under grants #2028640 and #2028642.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.