What is facilitation?
Facilitation is the art of supporting a group at a workshop or event to effectively solve problems, make decisions, learn together and achieve its objectives. In order to succeed, a facilitator needs to apply a combination of skills, knowledge, structure and process to the interactions of the group.
The success of your meetings will depend on how well they are facilitated. The process is much the same as running your Toastmasters club meetings in person with a few major differences. In this article I will focus on those differences and provide some tips on how to make the best use of the Zoom software.
Toastmaster meeting roles that have the main task of facilitating online include, the Toastmaster of the Day, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Timer and the Table Topics Master.
- The Toastmaster of the Day needs to be skilled in the use of the web conferencing software and know how to utilise all features and functions to ensure that attendees enjoy the experience. eg how to use their audio and video presence well.The TMoD will be the meeting manager and provide appropriate introductions and invitations to speak. They will also need to be prompt in providing suitable segues between each segment. eg paying close attention to each speaker and adding a little humour before moving to the next speaker. They should avoid making mini-speeches or indulging in irrelevant chats that may distract and use up valuable time.
Note: TMoD should be familiar with the Agenda for the meeting and be able to screen share or send agenda as a PDF in File Share in Zoom.
- The Sergeant-at-Arms needs to be skilled in the use of the web conferencing software and know how to meet and greet members and guests in the networking segment before the meeting begins. It is usually up to the SAA to provide the online protocols for meeting behaviour as an introduction to the meeting. eg advising all attendees that the meeting will be recorded.
Note: The SAA should be proficient with these Zoom functions: opening the room as the Host; recording the meeting to the cloud or their computer, and providing instructions to attendees in using audio and video, participant voting and chat messaging.
- The Timer needs to be skilled in the use of the web conferencing software and their chosen timing devices. They will need to advise the attendees of how the timing devices will be displayed, including visual and audible clues.
Note: The Timer should be proficient with these Zoom functions: chat panel for indicating timings for speakers. In an online meeting the timer needs to advise the TMoD of the timing of the meeting itself and advise when its time to modify items on the agenda to keep to time. The Timer should know how to send Private Messages in the Chat.
- The Table Topics Master needs to be skilled in the use of the web conferencing software to preside over the Table Topics segment of the online club meeting. It is their role to prompt the impromptu speaker to participate in this segment with a question or statement that they can comment on.
Note: The TTM should prompt the speaker to unmute their microphones in Zoom. It is their task to then segue to the next speaker and where necessary, prompt the speaker to mute their microphones when finished.
What are the Facilitation Skills required?
- Create an inclusive environment.
- Communicate clear guidelines and instructions.
- Group dynamics (and group management)
- Active listening.
- Verbal skills to facilitate conversations.
- Conflict management.
Note: Facilitation skills in the Zoom environment can be mastered in a short space of time by practicing with a small group then the whole club.
Its Time to Meeting Online– Toastmasters magazine article March 2020
Facilitation Skills – downloadable PDF document.
Club Meeting Roles – scripts and logs from Toastmasters International.
A comprehensive list of meeting roles and responsibilities for online clubs, has been created by David F. Carr DTM, for the Online Presenters totally online club. David has also created an online judging tool for contests. He provides an instructional video here.
D52 Online Guide to Zoom a great set of basic steps to using Zoom has been developed by Judy Thang at District 52.