O lekcii


Facilitating a group/community meeting

When it comes to community meetings – round tables with community leaders & working groups – it is all about effectiveness and relationship building.

People usually join those meetings after their working hours instead of spending time with their family and friends. That means that a meeting needs to be effective. One of the ways to have an effective meeting is to have a facilitator. At first it could be the organizer, but later it is efficient to rotate this role or let the meeting participants choose someone among themselves.

What is a facilitation?

Every book and every facilitator describes facilitation differently, but there are two basic interpretations on which they all agree.

According to the broader one, facilitation eases the process of achieving the goal of an individual, group, organization… or even a country. In general, this means that facilitation is a set of all the activities we can do to make things go smoothly towards their goal.

Here facilitation is perceived as a superset or „a sibling“ of coaching, mediation, mentoring, moderation, lecturing and learning, or sometimes even supervision.

The narrow interpretation of facilitation focuses on group gatherings, such as work meetings or trainings. Aleš Bednařík defines facilitation as an activity of “making the discussion process easier so that communication goes efficiently and the participants obtain the results for which they came together.“

Basic principles of facilitation

The whole facilitation process can be summarized in 2 + 1 basic activities:

  1. The facilitator actively listens to what the participants in the group say.
  2. The facilitator asks questions – mostly open questions, which lead the discussion towards the set goal.
  3. Alternatively, the facilitator writes down the ideas, comments and outputs that the group came up with.

During these activities, the role of the facilitator is:

  • to keep the structure – ensures that each step is related to achieving the goal
  • to keep time – to be time efficient
  • to create a psychologically safe environment
  • to ensure that everyone involved has a chance to express their position.

Achieving the group’s goal can also be, for example:

  • assigning tasks for the next week
  • defining strategic goals and plans for the next five years
  • or inventing the latest advertising campaign for a client.

Last but not least: the facilitator tends to be an external figure that does not directly interfere with the content of the meeting, but only keeps it within certain boundaries for effective progress. For this reason, it is sometimes appropriate to arrange for an external meeting facilitator, so that all participants – team / community members – can be fully involved in the meeting content.

TIP for quick group decisions:

Five-finger technique

If you have a lot of people in a group during your meeting and little time to discuss all the opinions on the topic, try this simple technique. Ask people to express their attitude by showing 1-5 fingers. Personally, I define 5 fingers as maximum agreement and 1 finger as disagreement.

After all participants show their settings, ask for a verbal statement from those who voted with one, two, or three fingers (depending on how much time you have left).

You can learn more about facilitation and get some tips and tricks on how to facilitate a group and how to deal with “difficult” participants in these videos:

by Juraj Víg



My experience with facilitation and community building, by Domča

Organizing meetings for me has been more difficult than I expected. I’m trying to build a community of leaders and I find it really important to have these meetings as meaningful and valuable as possible. That’s why I keep thinking of what the meeting should look like, when to organize it and what tools to use. As I am in the process of building a community and doing one-on-one meetings, I noticed a higher interest from people to join these gatherings, which brings me to the problem of how to integrate newcomers to existing groups. To solve this, I’m thinking about creating new groups.


Before each meeting I ask myself:

  • how the meeting will run, where it is going to take place and what should be prepared
  • how to integrate new members into groups (how much time should I allocate for newcomers without breaking group dynamics and the flow of the meeting)
  • how to set our rules/the rules of the groups
  • how to make the meeting interactive

During the meeting I am:

  • facilitating/leading the discussion/work of all those present – trying to integrate all members
  • listening actively
  • checking the time and guiding the debate to keep it relevant and on the spot

The framework of the meeting:

  • starts with the introductory part, where I’m sharing some technicalities (incl. available time) and inquiring about any issues needed to be discussed on the spot (any requests from the participants)
  • During introduction we need to set the goals of the meeting
  • Moving on to the topics of the meeting and summarizing the conclusions of the last one (with the help of the participants who talk about what they remember from the previous gathering)
  • Dividing the participants into groups based on a specific issue/question that they need to solve together (because of group dynamics)
  • Making the meeting interactive (to keep up attention) with different tools, e.g. flipchart, postids, DIXIT cards
  • Review the tasks and identifying the outputs – what has been learned
  • What’s next? It’s important to draw some conclusions and further steps, incl. the date of the next meeting

After the meeting I am:

  • creating a log of the meeting and sending them to the participants (alternatively can be done by one of them)
  • creating a new “event/happening” online and sending them to the participants’ calendar
  • continuing with the one-on-one meetings*

* We need to continue with the individual meetings in order to follow the group’s progress, their needs and future direction. It requires time and plenty of work with the group, but at the end it pays off with stronger support and relations among group members.


  • If you want to create a community, you need to make people feel involved and have ownership over the group. You can give them tasks or they can choose some themselves based on their personal preference.
  • Check the available resources in the participating organizations and the participants themselves – what can they bring to support the group? You might find more than you think: from human resources (knowledge, skills) to available spaces and possible financial support.