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Facilitation Essentials: Building Trust

This quick reference tool is intended for employees at all levels who want to learn how to cultivate trust and inclusion in their meetings. It provides tips on how to foster trust through meeting preparation, welcoming participants and establishing and maintaining an environment of respect.

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Fostering inclusion and trust before, during and after your meetings.


  • Set clear meeting objectives.
  • Use your meeting invitation to set the tone.
  • Share steps taken to foster inclusion.
  • Share important information ahead of time.
  • Consider using pulse surveys to seek views in advance.


  • Welcome and acknowledge people as they arrive.
  • Ask participants' names and pronouns.
  • Check in with participants and attend to their needs.
  • Bring confidence and humility: "I don't know but I'll find out" is an acceptable response.
  • Be accessible.


  • Start promptly or explain any delays.
  • Respect the agenda and ask others to do so.
  • Set expectations for participation at the outset. This helps people listen more actively as they are not anticipating or planning how to get their point included.
  • Ensure everyone gets a fair chance to speak and be heard.
  • Maintain and respect boundaries and, if facilitating for a group, actively demonstrate impartiality.
  • Show respect equally to everyone; communicate with kindness.
  • Use your active listening skills:
    • Ask "overhead questions" to the group as a whole rather than directed or restricted questions. If a participant speaks quietly, repeat the question so everyone can hear or consider paraphrasing to model the skill.
    • Acknowledge/reference what someone has said when building on their idea. Mention their name and cite their contribution.
  • Record ideas; make people's contributions visible.
  • Keep the focus in the group.
  • Model vulnerability.
  • Look for ways to help; offer empathy.
  • Encourage laughter.
  • End on time.

If you are attending the meeting

  • Participate actively. For example: be fully prepared and present; offer good questions


  • Follow up on what you agreed to do.


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