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Facilitation Essentials: Clarifying Participants' Needs

This quick reference tool is intended for employees at all levels who want to learn how to plan and run meetings more effectively. It provides a detailed list of questions and considerations to help organize and run a meeting.

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Questions for consideration.


  • Is there a clear meeting goal? Does the group need help articulating one?
  • Are there any underlying needs to address? Is a pre-meeting required?
  • If the meeting is intended to include decision-making, who has the final say?
  • How does this meeting fit into the organization's overall objectives?
  • What will success look like at the end of the day and how is it being measured?
  • How complex will the subject matter be?


  • Who is convening the meeting? (Are you the organizer, project sponsor, facilitator or all 3?)
    • Why do they want the meeting to take place?
    • What is their motivation? How does this piece fit into the larger picture?
    • If you are supporting the group in the role of an impartial facilitator: What is the organizer's experience in working with a facilitator?
  • Who needs to be present? How many people are likely to attend?
  • Whose needs do you have to consider?
  • Do they know one another? Are they a team? Do they represent 1 or more organizations?
  • What expectations might they have?
  • Are they public servants or do they come from other sectors?
  • Is there a specific vocabulary the group uses with which you want to be familiar?


  • What kind of personalities and styles do you have in the room? What kind of energy will you need to achieve your goal?

Preparing yourself

  • Are you available? Do you have time to prepare, be present during the session and for follow-up?
  • How comfortable are you being clear with yourself and your client about what you are comfortable taking on in terms of availability and skills?

Roles and tasks to consider

  • Responsibility for outcomes (usually with meeting organizer) and process (with a facilitator if you are using one)
  • Designing the process and agenda
  • Preparing any guest speakers or people taking on other roles (note-takers, table facilitators, etc.)
  • Logistics (invitations, space, speakers, group configuration, information technology, audio-visual, etc.)


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