Simple Yet Brilliant Facilitation Technique You Should Be Using

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If you’ve ever wished for a way to handle rapid fire questions during a public meeting Q&A, this one’s for you. At a recent storm preparedness workshop in Manhattan, partnering a facilitator with a speaker during the all-important Q&A session made sure even the most agitated questioner felt included, the process was smooth, and the speaker had ample time to prepare answers.

Here’s how it worked: Once the speaker finished, the facilitator opened a 20-minute Q&A by collecting three questions from the audience and writing them on a flip chart. He then restated the questions for the speaker to answer one at a time. After the first three had been answered, the facilitator collected three more, and on until 20 minutes had ended.

Here’s why this approach worked so well:

The facilitator managed audience expectations about the length and process of the Q&A

No individual could dominate the Q&A

The speaker had plenty of time to frame each response

Questioners—and the audience—saw and heard the questions

The Q&A was controlled from start to finish

We’ve all seen meetings where the Q&A devolved into something less than productive—a good facilitator anticipates the unexpected with a toolbox of options that can turn the most contentious meeting into a positive experience. What are some successful facilitation techniques you’ve seen or used?

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ASC + AMC = CRM

AM2

There is only one sure way to deliver first-rate communications support for a client: Find the best professionals available in the marketplace of talent—and hire them! It’s the ultimate “best practice.” ASC Senior Project Manager, Anne Marie Corbalis aka AMC, is a case in point. Anne Marie recently celebrated her ninth anniversary with ASC. Her ASC career includes helping spur the growth of the firm (an increase of 60% in gross income and 50% more employees since her hire date) and amassing a long list of appreciative State and Federal agency customers. Behind AMC’s personal best is her commitment to turning her understanding of her clients’ needs and preferences into action plans for excellence in the customer experience.

Anne Marie has more than 20 years of experience in the front lines of the industry—and the practical wisdom to show for it. She sliced her nine-year anniversary cake into nine tips that can help us all up our game:

1) Customer service is never a back-office function. When it comes to client contact, don’t delegate. Make yourself available 24/7.

2) Appoint yourself to ask “Dumb Questions.” Others in the room or on the call will be grateful, and you’ll make yourself invaluable.

3) Don’t be just an extra pair of hands. Share your insight—especially when it doesn’t align with your client’s. That’s when your value shows through.

4) My patron saint of client relations is former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, whose signature question to the public “How’m I doin’?” should be adopted by everyone in the business. Ask and they’ll tell you—and then act on it.

5) Don’t be the second to know. If there’s something in the news about your client, be sure you know it – real time.

6) Tell them how the dominoes fall. When a client asks for a change, tell them up front how that may impact the budget, the deadline, and the deliverable—and let them decide how to proceed. No one wants to learn that information in an invoice.

7) Use email to share facts and news. Use your phone to build relationships.

8) Small talk can lead to big business. Even the busiest clients appreciate the personal touch. It builds trust and can lead to meaningful new business development.

9) Proof before you press “Send.” The last thing you want to hear yourself say after you’ve pulsed off an email is, “Oops!”

Before signing on with ASC, Anne Marie served as the Director of Public Affairs for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office; she was also the Communications Director for a statewide political campaign. When not positioning news stories to garner coverage in national media, AMC uses her kayak to navigate the waterways of the Hudson Valley.

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