As the face of your brand, one of the absolute BEST ways to establish your credibility, become a sought-after expert and attract clients, is to position yourself as the leader of a group.
Groups can come in different shapes and sizes. Your group could be an in-person Meetup group like mine, or it could be an online community.
Either way, you will be smart to facilitate events through your group that bring your members together in a social and learning environment around your area of expertise.
But how do you successfully facilitate a group without being overrun by conversation hijackers, storytellers and challenging participates?
How do you maintain control of the group without appearing like a control freak?
One of the keys that has made my Meetup group, Daring Divas, so successful is that I've learned how to maintain control of the room, while at the same time being warm, engaging and real in my leadership style.
Here's how I do it:
1. I Provide Structure
Structure means that every event has a beginning, middle and end. As well as a carefully thought out agenda that I lead my members through. This is true whether it's a social event or a workshop.
Some important things to remember about structure:
2. I Manage Time
Managing time goes hand in hand with providing structure. Keeping your event on track is important if you want your members to feel like they got what they expected from attending.
Sometimes, keeping your event on track involves cutting someone off who is hijacking the conversation or bringing a discussion to a close so you can get to everything on the agenda.
If this makes you feel like "the bad guy" you can solve this problem by letting your members know at the beginning of your event how you plan to facilitate.
You could say something like:
"During our discussion today, it's important that all of our voices are heard. If I notice any one person taking over the conversation, I will kindly ask you to make space for others to speak. Does that sound ok to you?"
"Each person will have 30 seconds to introduce herself. If you see my hand go up, that means you've reached your 30 seconds and please wrap up your last sentence."
OR, during the event you could say…
"We've been talking about this topic for a while now, and I'm mindful of everything we still need to get to today. Let's wrap it up and if you have anything burning that you'd still like to share, please feel free to continue the conversation on our online discussion board.
3. I'm Flexible When Needed
While managing time is important, it's also important to be flexible when needed.
Always hold the group's best interest over sticking to your agenda and if you sense in the moment that it is in service to your group to navigate away from the agenda, you could say something like this:
"I'd like to stop us for a moment to check in. I had A, B, and C planned for us today, but I'm sensing that we need more time on X. Would you agree? And if we spend more time on X will you be satisfied if we don't get to A, B and C?"
Remember: if you want to be seen and respected as the leader of your group (which leads to all things awesome like new clients, more money, speaking invitations, etc.) then you MUST keep your events on track!
You can do this without appearing like a control freak simply by being open with your members. Before the event, communicate what to expect... and during the event, communicate openly and honestly when you need to make a time management decision.
Ask your members for agreement to get them on board with your time management decisions. Most people will want to get through your agenda and will respect you more for keeping things on track!
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