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Choosing the Right Tools to Achieve Your Meeting Goals

Tools for facilitating your meeting needs are many and varied. Great Meetings! Great Results presents a chapter full of such meeting tools. As a facilitator, you need a full bag of tools in order to meet all the different circumstances you might meet. But how do you know which tool to choose?

If you are unfamiliar with some of the tools mentioned here, please note that in the weeks ahead we will examine a wide variety of tools. As we introduce each tool, we will indicate situations in which it might be most useful.

Key Points To Take Away

--- Pick a tool that is appropriate for where you are in the process steps.
--- Look for a tool that will generate the type of product you want, the outcome you desire.
--- Find a tool that will be most helpful for your group's characteristics.

Here are some hints for choosing the right tool:

First, stay focused on the purpose and desired outcomes of your meeting. Ask yourself if the tool you plan to use will help you achieve your desired outcome. If that desired outcome is a prioritized list of ideas for playground equipment, first pick a tool that will generate ideas. Next, find an evaluation tool that will result in a priority listing.

Be sure you know which process step you are in. Some tools are better suited for analyzing a problem (a fishbone diagram, for example) and others are best suited for visioning the ideal (the "Picture the Future" tool). Select a tool that is appropriate for the process step.

There are also tools for generating ideas (brainstorming) and tools for evaluating those ideas (multivoting). Decision-making has its own set of tools too. You need to be clear about what you are trying to accomplish.

In addition, ask yourself the following questions about the group and the task:
--- Is the group large or small?
--- What are the group dynamic issues?
--- What is the group's energy level?
--- What is the mix of extroverts and introverts?
--- What are the power dynamics in the group?
--- Is the topic fraught with conflict?
The answers to those questions will help you choose one tool over another.

Next week we will begin a series of articles on specific tools -- when they are useful and how to use them.

For more information about choosing the right tools to achieve your meeting goals, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: The basics of brainstorming.

About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

Learn more by clicking the links below:

* Read biographies
Learn about Pam and Dee.

* Read a "backgrounder"
What will you learn from this series?

* See the Great Meetings archive
See past articles in the series.

* Visit the Great Meetings Web site
Learn about the book, training workshops Pam and Dee offer, and more.

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